IEEE Transactions on Device and Materials Reliability, Vol. 14, No. 2, June 2014, pp 630-638

Scintillation Conditioning of Tantalum Capacitors With Manganese Dioxide Cathodes

Thomas Fritzler, Michael H. Azarian, Member, IEEE, and Michael G. Pecht, Fellow, IEEE

Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering (CALCE), University of Maryland


Scintillation testing is a method that activates the self-healing mechanism in tantalum capacitors. In preliminary experiments, the deliberate activation of self-healing yielded up to 100% higher breakdown voltages in weak parts that had an increased risk of ignition failure. This improvement results in better performance under surge current conditions. This paper demonstrates that scintillation conditioning reduces surge current failures in tantalum capacitors with manganese dioxide cathodes. Tantalum capacitors with MnO2 cathodes from two manufacturers are subjected to scintillation conditioning and are compared with non-conditioned populations in a surge current test. To ensure that the activation of the self-healing mechanism has no detrimental effect on the reliability of the parts, a life test is conducted. The results show that the conditioning method increases the breakdown voltage of self-healed tantalum capacitors by up to 25% under surge current conditions, which mitigates the risk of ignition failures. No detrimental effect on the life of the conditioned samples was observed.

Keywords - Reliability, tantalum capacitors, surge, testing

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