2008 April Newsletter

Semitracks Newsletter for April 2008

Upcoming Courses

Semitracks continues to expand its course offerings this year with new courses and new locations. We are also offering several courses in India for the first time this spring. For more information on these courses, and our courses in North America and Europe, click on the links below.

Semiconductor Reliability Short Course: May 19-21, 2008, Munich, Germany

MEMS Packaging Course: May 20-21, 2008, Munich, Germany

Failure and Yield Analysis Short Course: May 26-29, 2008, Munich, Germany

Advanced Thermal Management: July 16-18, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Advanced Thermal Management: July 21-23, Penang, Malaysia

RF & Mixed Signal Testing: July 29 - August 1, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

RF & Mixed Signal Testing: August 4-7, Penang, Malaysia

Semiconductor Reliability: August 19-22, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Other events of interest

International Reliability Physics Symposium (IRPS), Phoenix, Arizona, April 27-May 1, 2008 – IRPS is the leading conference discussing the newest failure mechanisms and the latest developments in reliability characterization. John Suehle, our Advanced Reliability Challenges course instructor, is the General Chair of the conference. Chris Henderson will be chairing the Failure Analysis session.

Website: http://www.irps.org

Advanced Materials and Failure Analysis (AMFA) Workshop, Phoenix, Arizona, May 2, 2008 – AMFA is a new workshop dedicated to advanced electronics materials and failure characterization. AMFA is structured as a “Gordon” conference, allowing ample time for discussion and follow-up with the presenters. Chris Henderson is chairing a portion of the conference on nano-analysis techniques.

Website: http://www.amfaworkshop.org

Technical Tidbit

This month’s technical tidbit is on transmission line pulse, or TLP testing. TLP is an excellent method for characterizing a device’s response to a fast ESD pulse. One can produce a current-voltage characteristic for an input or output pin. This can be useful for determining snapback characteristics, and the behavior of a structure in the low-resistance on condition.

This diagram shows the basic elements of a transmission line pulse system. TLP testers use a 50-? coaxial cable to form and transmit the pulse. The length of the cable determines the test pulse's length. Each meter of cable adds approximately 9 ns to the pulse, so to get a 100-ns pulse you need about 10 meters of cable. A low-resistance relay connects the cable to the DUT either through a resistor, as shown here, (which is referred to as the constant-current method) or an attenuator and low-pass filter (which is referred to as the constant-impedance method). To measure the voltage across and the current through the DUT during a TLP pulse, a TLP tester uses an oscilloscope with at least a 500-MHz bandwidth. A voltage probe connects between the device's test pin and ground. A current probe measures the current that enters the DUT.

While many TLP testers use constant-current and constant-impedance methods to calculate current, others use a different technique: time-domain reflectometry. These testers use a delay line and an attenuator following the relay. The tester measures the amplitude of the current pulse entering the delay line, and then it measures the amplitude of the reflection from the DUT. From the difference in amplitude, the tester can calculate the current and voltage in the DUT. The delay line ensures that the reflected signal won't interfere with measurements on the incident signal.

Regardless of which method you use to calculate current, the TLP tester injects current into a MOS device's drain with the gate and source grounded. As the tester increases the pulse amplitude, failures will begin to occur when the end of the pulse reaches the DUT. By that time, the device will have had to withstand all of the pulse's total energy.

Online Training

We have continued to expand our online training materials over the past year. We have added a significant amount of new material in the reliability section, as well as new material in a number of the other sections. Our material contains flash-based courses, quizzes, and interactive exercises, as well as PDF materials for off-line reading.

To see an example of one of the quizzes in the system, click here. Test your knowledge of CMOS and Bi-CMOS Process Integration.

Call us at 1-505-858-0454, or e-mail us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a free trial account.

Reference Materials

Semitracks makes some of its materials available for free on our website. At this time, the reference material contains some basic information on some design and failure analysis topics. Here is an example showing information on leakage curve testing.


To access this material, go here.


If you have a suggestion or a comment regarding our courses, online training, discussion forums, reference materials, or if you wish to suggest a new course or location, please feel free to call us at 1-505-858-0454, or e-mail us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We are always looking for ways to enhance our course materials and offerings.

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The Semitracks newsletter, mailed out once a month, updates you on the latest in training. We provide dates for upcoming courses, terms and definitions used in the industry, upcoming conferences, industry trivia, and examples of our online training.

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