C. Hillman, N. Blattau, and D. Barker
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742
Since their introduction in 1977, surface mount multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCC's) have been rapidly accepted by the electronics industry, to the point were they are one of the most common components on a circuit card assembly. When used correctly, the reliability of a nominal MLCC is extremely high, with expected operating lifetimes in the decades, if not hundreds of years. Problems occur when defects are introduced, either during the manufacturing or assembly processes. Because of the large amount of energy stored by capacitors, internal shorts resulting from internal defects can cause explosions and large increases in temperatures. This not only destroys the MLCC, and any evidence of root-cause, but can also cause damage to surrounding components, the printed board, adjacent circuit card assemblies, and in the worst-case lead to catastrophic fires.
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