23rd Capacitor and Resistor Technology Symposium, pp. 129-133, Scottsdale, AZ, March 31 - April 3, 2003

Failures in Base Metal Electrode (BME) Capacitors

D. Donahoe and C. Hillman
CALCE Electronic Products and Systems Center
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742


A new failure mechanism has been discovered for today's latest high volumetric efficiency multilayer chip capacitors. Over the past couple of years, the drive for lower costs has been promoted by the replacement of silver palladium electrodes by nickel. Diligent qualification procedures predicted very long life. However, experience has uncovered an Achilles heel. The capacitors fail when exposed to high (> 85%) humidity un-powered for extended periods.

This paper provides an overview of salient details of the construction of ceramic multilayer capacitors. Reviewing the literature and intuiting the possible bad actors form candidate hypotheses. An experimental and analytical procedure for quantifying the merit of each hypothesis is proposed.

Complete article is available to CALCE Consortium Members.


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