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Electronic devices using semiconductors such as insulated-gate bipolar transistors, metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors, and diodes are extensively used in electrical traction applications such as locomotive, elevators, subways, and cars. The long-term reliability of such power modules is then highly demanded, and their main reliability criterion is their power cycling capability. Thus, a power cycling test is the most important reliability test for power modules. This test consists in periodically applying a current to a device mounted onto a heat sink. This leads to power loss in the entire module and results in a rise in the semiconductor temperature. In this paper, the different kinds of semiconductors and power modules used for traction applications are described. Experimental and simulation methods employed for power cycling tests are presented. Modules' weak points and fatigue processes are pointed out. Then, a detailed statistical review of publications from 1994 to 2015 dealing with power cycling is presented. This review gives a clear overview of all studies dealing with power cycling that were carried out until now. It reveals the principal trends in power electronic devices and highlights the main reliability issues for which an important lack of knowledge remains.
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Electronic devices using semiconductors like Insulated
Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) Metal Oxide Semiconductor
Field Effect Transistor (MOSFET), and diodes are extensively
used in electrical traction applications such as locomotive,
elevator, subway and car. The long-term reliability of such power
modules is then highly demanded and their main reliability
criterion is their power cycling capability. Thus, power cycling
test is the most important reliability test for power modules. This
test consists in periodically applying a current to a device
mounted onto a heat sink. This leads to power loss in the entire
module and results in a rise of the semiconductor temperature. In
this paper, the different kind of semiconductors and power
modules used for traction applications are described.
Experimental and simulation methods employed for power
cycling tests are presented. Modules weak points and fatigue
processes are pointed out. Then, a detailed statistical review of
publications from 1994 to 2015 dealing with power cycling is
presented. This review gives a clear overview of all studies
dealing with power cycling that were carried out until now. It
reveals the principal trends in power electronic devices and
highlights the main reliability issues for which an important lack
of knowledge remains.
Index Terms
Reliability estimation, Semiconductor device
modeling, Semiconductor device testing, Semiconductor
materials, Statistics
I. I
OWER electronic devices use semiconductor technology
to convert and control electrical power. The take up of
electronics in transport systems has resulted in tremendous
growth in the use of power electronics devices such as
Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT), Metal Oxide
Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor (MOSFET), and
diodes. These devices are being increasingly used in electrical
traction applications such as locomotive, elevator, subway and
car. Thus, manufacturers seek to estimate lifetimes of
semiconductors and the conditions under which they fail. Such
Manuscript received July 19, 2015; revised December 11, 2015.
C. Durand was with Robert Bosch GmbH in department of Automotive
Electronics, Markwiesentr. 46, 72770 Reutlingen GERMANY. She is now
with the LAMIH UMR CNRS 8201, University of Valenciennes, Le Mont
Houy, 59313 Valenciennes cedex 9 FRANCE (phone: +33 3 27 51 12 15, e-
M. Klingler is with Robert Bosch GmbH in department of Automotive
Electronics, Markwiesentr. 46, 72770 Reutlingen GERMANY.
D. Coutellier and H. Naceur are with LAMIH UMR CNRS 8201,
University of Valenciennes, Le Mont Houy, 59313 Valenciennes cedex 9
*Copyright © 2016 IEEE. Personal use of this material is permitted.
However, permission to use this material for any other purposes must be
obtained by sending a request to
lifetime estimation and reliability testing is usually done
through Active Power Cycling (APC) tests as it reproduces
working conditions. The modules are mounted on a heat sink
and a voltage is applied in a forward direction to reach a
defined current. This current through the device under test
leads to power loss throughout the entire module and results in
an increase in the semiconductor temperature. By periodically
switching the current on and off, the temperature of the chip
rises and falls due to alternate heating and cooling, inducing a
junction temperature swing ΔT
. One power cycle is defined as
the period of heating up the junction from minimum
temperature T
to maximum T
and cooling it down. In
most set ups, the temperature and electrical data are monitored
during each cycle. If these values increase more than a
previously determined amount (e.g. 20%), the End of Life
criteria is fulfilled, and the corresponding number of cycles to
failure N
is then used in models for lifetime estimation [1].
Active Power Cycling (APC) can be distinguished from
Passive Temperature Cycling (PTC) test as the heating source
differs: in APC the chip is the internal heating source (active)
whereas in PTC the heating source comes from its
environment (passive). Thus, the temperature distribution in
the device being tested is also different: the temperature is
spatially not homogenously distributed in APC whereas for
PTC the temperature of the module is uniformed. Moreover,
the commonly used cycle times are about ten to one-hundred
times shorter at APC (from 0,2 seconds to 1 minute) than at
PTC (from 15 minutes to 1 hour).
The main failure mechanisms reported to occur in power
modules are: bond wire fatigue, aluminum reconstruction and
ratcheting, solder fatigue, delamination at the interface
between Mold/Copper and chip cracking. Bond wire and
solder fatigue are often taken as responsible for device failure
as bond wire and solder are both weak components located at
critical interfaces.
Two projects are the main references concerning power
cycling capability of power modules: the Swiss LESIT project
(1993-1995) [30] and the RAPSDRA (Reliability of Advanced
Power Semiconductor Devices for Railway traction
Applications, (1995-1998)) [32] project. The LESIT project
has power cycled IGBT modules with a base plate coming
from different manufacturers in 14 tests with different thermal
conditions. The main failure mechanism considered was the
bond wire lift-off. The result of the study was the
determination of a lifetime model depending on the thermal
conditions of the test, see Fig. 1, and in (1). The important
result of LESIT project is the prediction that besides ΔT
, also
the medium junction temperature T
has considerable
influence on the power cycling reliability.
Power Cycling Reliability of Power Module: a
C. Durand, M. Klingler, D. Coutellier and H. Naceur,
= ∙ ∆
∙ e
With R being the gas constant (8,314 J/mol.K) and T
Kelvin make A = 640, α = -5, and Q= 7,8×10
(or about
0,8 eV).
Fig. 1. Number of cycles to failure versus ΔT
and T
from the LESIT project
The RAPSDRA project has proposed 2 APC tests
conditions. The first test focuses on the bond wire reliability
and recommends testing devices with a short t
so that the
period of cycle does not exceed 3 seconds. The second test
aims at determining solder reliability and recommends testing
devices with a long period 1-minute cycle. This shows the
influence of t
on the failure mechanisms development and
how this dependency can be used to study preferably one
phenomenon or another.
The LESIT and RAPSDRA projects were among the first
ones to study APC, to determine the influence of test
parameters on the reliability of power modules and to provide
a lifetime model. But these studies were carried out 20 years
ago and since then technologies have evolved. Thus it would
be interesting to review the results of studies published from
1994 until now, regarding the reliability of power modules
under APC.
In the following, the different types of semiconductors and
power modules architectures are described. Modules weak
points and fatigue processes are pointed out. Experimental and
simulation methods employed for APC tests are presented.
These descriptions show the variety of APC methods existing
for experiments and simulations, as well as the variety of
issues concerning power modules reliability. Then,
publications from 1994 to 2015 dealing with APC are
statistically reviewed. The variety of modules studied, the kind
of tests performed and the goal of studies are analyzed in
detail. This allows having a clear overview of all studies
dealing with APC that were carried out until now. It also
reveals the principal trends in power electronic devices and
highlights the main reliability issues for which an important
lack of knowledge remains.
Since the early stages of power electronics, a wide range of
semiconductors have been developed: GTO (Gate Turn Off
Thyristor), BJT (Bipolar Junction Transistor), IGBT (Isolated
Gate Bipolar Transistor), IGCT (integrated Gate Commutated
Thyristor), MCT (MOS Controlled Thyristor), MOSFET
(Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor)… These
converters are being used over a wide power range, with
ratings from milliwatts up to gigawatts. Depending on the
required voltage and current ratings of the power
semiconductors, different types of power semiconductors are
being used, see Fig. 2.
Fig. 2 . Power levels of power electronic components [2]
All power electronic converters listed above are using Si
based power semiconductors, but since 2011 semiconductors
made of silicon carbide SiC have been emerging. The SiC
technology remains under development, but once processing
and fabrication issues with SiC are solved, a significant
reduction in power electronic converters conduction and
switching losses can be achieved by replacing Si devices with
those made from SiC [3, 4].
So a wide variety of semiconductors are available to design
a power module. Then, regarding the power module’s
structure, one can consider that there are two main standard
module designs in power electronic for packages capable of
housing multiple chips per electrical function in parallel:
Direct Copper Bonding (DCB) based modules and lead frame
based modules.
Fig. 3. (a) Internal structure of a DCB based module with a base plate and
(b) without base plate
For all modules, the electrical connection of the chip is
usually achieved by aluminum wire bond ultrasonically
welded on the top side of the chip. The difference between
DCB based and lead frame based modules comes from the
bottom side of the chip.
For DCB based modules, the bottom side of the chip is
soldered onto the upper copper metallization of the DCB. The
ceramic is usually made of aluminum oxide Al
aluminum nitride AlN. The AlN is more advantageous: its
thermal conductivity is 7 times higher than for Al
, and its
Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (CTE) is almost 2 times
lower. Then, there are 2 variants (Fig. 3): one with a based
plate and a more recent one without a base plate. In the first
version, the DCB is mounted on a metallic base plate, usually
made of copper, which maintains the module on the heat sink
through thermal paste. This construction is found in 70-80%
of all power modules produced by European manufacturers
(Infineon, Semikron, IXYS, Danfoss, Dynex) and is also
common in modules produced by Asian manufacturers. In the
second version, there is no base plate, and the DCB is directly
mounted on the heat sink through a thermal paste. This
solution shows better thermal performances and avoids the
stress inductance caused by the CTE mismatch between the
ceramic and the base plate. DCB based modules are usually
not encapsulated by a mold.
For lead frame based modules, the bottom side of the chip is
soldered on a metal lead frame, mostly made of a copper alloy.
To ensure the electrical isolation and the mechanical
protection of chips, the subassembly, excepting the lead frame,
is generally transfer molded by a plastic molding compound
[5]. The package is then mounted on the heat sink through
thermal paste. This internal structure (Fig. 4) is used in the
discrete power devices of the TO- family. Power devices of
TO cases are widely used in low and middle power
applications like DC/DC and AC/DC converters.
Fig. 4: Internal structure of a lead frame based module
Interconnects and assembly technologies are constantly
evolving. Regarding joining technology, the chip or DCB
attaches were initially lead containing solder. Then due to the
Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) legislation, the
lead containing solder were progressively replaced by lead-
free solder. Today soft soldering techniques limit the lifetime
of devices because of the low melting point of standard tin-
based soft solders, thus new materials or alloys have to be
considered. The two main solutions that are currently
developed are Low Temperature Joining Technique (LTJT)
also called silver sintering and diffusion soldering (Fig 5). For
Ag sintering, the traditional solder paste is replaced by a paste
consisting of silver flakes embedded in a semi-fluid matrix
and the assembly is sintered under a relatively high pressure
(e.g. 10 - 40 MPa) and moderate temperatures (e.g. 230°C)
[6]. A porous interconnection is obtained without voids and
with a high melting point (961°C) [44]. The diffusion
soldering process creates a bond which is solely formed from
intermetallics. This soldering technology is based on the inter-
diffusion of a low melting point metal (Sn) in the other
element (Cu), having a higher melting point. For the Cu-Sn
system the joint can e.g. be produced by the formation of
Sn and Cu
intermetallic phases which have much
higher melting points and higher mechanical strengths than the
Sn-based soft solder base materials [7].
Fig 5.(a) Cross sections of an Ag sinter joint [6] and (b) a diffusion bonded
joint [6]
Regarding interconnect technology, Al wire bonding is the
most widely used technology, but wire bonds often represent
the weakest part of power modules, and thus limits their
lifetime. To overcome this limit, new interconnect
technologies have been developed: Cu and Al-clad Cu wire
bonds, ribbons, and Cu clips (Fig. 6). The Al of wire bond can
be replaced by Cu as it offers better electrical, thermal and
mechanical properties. An alternative to pure Cu wire bonds
are Al-clad Cu wire bonds. The Al/Cu composite material
combines the benefits of both constituent materials. The
excellent mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties of Cu
and the softness and strong bonding characteristics of pure Al
should result in a very reliable bonding joint without losing
the versatility of the standard pure Al bonding processes [69].
Ribbon bonding is an attractive alternative solution to standard
Al wire bonding, due to the lower number of ribbons required
to achieve the same interconnects resistance, meaning a
reliability increase combined with a cost reduction for the
same electrical performance [8]. The Cu clip technology is
typically used for MOSFET devices and provides improved
electrical performances when compared to multiple wires or
even with ribbons. The clip interconnect also reduces the
electrical and thermal resistance and package inductance and
improves the current distribution into the device. The clip-
bonded package has an option of adding a heat sink on top of
the clip or using a thick clip for dual side cooling. The
implementation of dual side cooling improves the thermal
performance of the module, which the wire bond technique
cannot achieve.
Fig. 6. (a) Cu wire bonds on an IGBT [9], (b) a DCB substrate with Al
ribbons [10], and (c) a Cu clip package SO8-FL from Amkor [11]
As simply applying one improvement step will not
necessarily lead to a better reliability, manufacturers are
developing technologies which are combining different
improvement steps. For example, the Danfoss Bond Buffer
(DBB) technology combines the advantages of the sintering
and the Cu bonding process [94]. Infineon has developed a
similar technology, called .XT. It consists of a combination of
Cu bond wires, diffusion soldering and improved system
soldering for the die to DCB interconnection [12]. The SKiN
device developed by Semikron, contains power chips which
are sintered on both sides. The chip top side is sintered to a
special flexible circuit board, which is the key design element
of the package. [13].
First of all, 3 different types of APC tests are in use: DC
current, Pulse Width Modulation PWM, or superimposed
tests. The DC current injection induces thermal stress by
creating a thermal flux in the module. This kind of test is
relatively simple but the excitation of devices is not realistic
(no switching and no high voltage). PWM tests generate APC
with realistic electrical stress in power devices. The DUT acts
as a single phase PWM inverter, its switching frequency is
adjustable and provides a regulated sinusoidal current to an
inductive load. Here the operating conditions are similar to
those existing in a drive inverter [91]. In a superimposed test,
devices are submitted to a combination of PTC and APC.
During the dwell time of a PTC test, power injections are
applied. This test also aims at a better representation of real
applications in which power modules undergo both PTC and
APC simultaneously. Obviously the number of cycles to
failure obtained for the same device under those 3 different
tests will be different as the loading conditions differ. But,
even by assuming that all tests are performed under DC
current, some differences can still be observed in the test set-
The cooling function of the heat sink can be ensured with
air-cooling or fluid-cooling systems. Fluid-cooling presents
the difficulty that one has to deal with pumps, pipes and to
regulate the coolant flow. On the other hand with air-cooling
the maximum cycle frequency is limited [14].
Besides the cooling system, the parameter monitoring is
also an important issue in APC. Two main parameters are
generally considered as good ageing indicators in power
device ageing tests and are monitored: the thermal resistance
between the junction and the base plate (
), the on-state
voltage (Collector-Emitter voltage V
in case of an IGBT,
Drain-Source voltage V
for a MOSFET and forward voltage
for a diode). Sometimes, the leakage current is also
monitored as an aging indicator. The on-state voltage
measurement makes it possible to detect wire bonds’ damages
by instantaneous stepwise increases. The relative variations
due to this damage are very low because the low voltage
across the connections constitutes a weak part of the total on-
state voltage. Therefore this measurement must be made with
a very high degree of accuracy. R
is an indicator for
characterizing the assembly integrity between the chip and the
base plate. R
increases if a fracture appears and significantly
modifies the heat transfer. Its evaluation is the most delicate
and requires measuring junction and base plate temperatures
under a fixed thermal flux. By calculating the power
the thermal resistance
can be estimated (e.g.
of an IGBT):
the heat sink temperature (also called case
 
the collector-emitter saturation voltage,
the loading current and
the measuring current.
The case temperature is usually measured via a thermal
sensor i.e thermocouple glued to the base plate of the device
under test. In contrast, there are several methods of measuring
the junction temperature T
. If a closed molded package is
under test, the only way to measure T
is via the measurement
of Thermo-Sensitive Parameters (TSP), such as the on-state
voltage. In the case of an open module with accessible die, T
can be determined via the measurement of the chip surface
temperature, for which there are 3 main methods: infra-red
cameras, thermocouples and optical fibers with crystal senses
on their ends. Infra-red method is a fast, accurate and non-
contact temperature measurement. This method provides
thermal imaging of the whole modules, which can be useful to
have a first evaluation of the temperature distribution.
Thermocouples method is a contact chip temperature
measurement with a response time of about 10 ms but this
response time and the measurement accuracy can be altered
due to a bad thermal contact with the measurement area. Two
sorts of contact optical fibers are used: fibers with GaAs
sensors and whose response time is about 100 ms, and fibers
with phosphor sensors with a response time at 63% of 25 ms
(not depending on the environment of the sensor) and a
measurement delivered every 250 ms. This last tool can
provide reliable dynamic temperature measurements through
the silicone gel recovering the chips. [29]
So, depending on the method used to measure the junction
temperature, the result obtained can be more or less precise,
thus influencing the accuracy of the R
ageing indicator. And
ageing indicators are used to determine the number of cycles
to failure via failure criteria. Indeed, when the on-state voltage
or the R
are increasing to a certain amount previously
defined, the test is stopped and the DUT is considered to be
failed (Fig. 7). Moreover, some variations are to be observed
in the definition of the failure criteria. For the on-state voltage
based failure criteria, the amount of increase traditionally used
ranges from 5% to 20%. For the R
based failure criteria, the
amount of increase varies from 10% to 20%.
Fig. 7. Evolution of V
and R
during APC test of ECONOPACK power
modules at ΔT
=113K [44]
More recently, other failure indicators were monitored, like
the drain to source on state resistance R
[73] or the thermal
impedance Z
[59]. To determine the R
, APC has to be
stopped, a small current is injected in the DUT and the exact
drain current I
that is injected through the device and the
drain to source voltage V
are measured. R
tends to
increase in electrical tests when the component thermal
performances are decreasing and a steep increase is observed
when the percentage of failure is important. Monitoring the
thermal impedance spectrum also requires test interruption.
The Z
is usually measured in the cooling phase, after that a
load pulse is applied through a load current in the DUT. So,
there is a wide range of variations concerning failure criteria.
The definition of the control strategy of an APC test, i.e. the
strategy of reacting to degradation effects in the DUT is also
of prime importance. It was just seen that degradations effects
can affect the device parameters and thus cause a change of
the test condition during the test duration. Solder fatigue
increases the thermal resistance of the DUT which increases
the temperature swing under constant test conditions (load
current, on-time, cooling conditions). As well as wire bonds,
degradations enhance the on-state losses in the device and
increase the temperature swing. The positive temperature
coefficient of modern devices will consequently lead to
increased losses, which again will increase the device
temperature. This positive feedback loop can significantly
accelerate the failure process. Therefore, the control strategy is
a very important feature of the APC test. There are 4 different
control strategies which were described and compared in [57]:
1) t
= constant and t
= constant
This strategy of constant timing switches the load current on
and off in fixed time intervals. ΔT
is defined at the test’s start
via e.g the definition of a constant current and T
, T
may increase during the test’s duration due to aging
effects with no compensation by a control strategy. This is the
method closest to application and the most severe one.
2) ΔT
= constant
This strategy controls the heat sink temperature. On-time and
off-time are not fixed, but are determined by the time needed
to heat and cool the device to the specified temperatures. Here
a change in the cooling liquid temperature would be
compensated by adjusting the heating and cooling times. This
maintains a constant temperature swing. Since a possible
degradation of the thermal interface between module and heat
sink would be compensated, this strategy is less severe than
the strategy 1. Taking the strategy 1 has a reference, an
increase of about 50% in the number of cycles to failure is
observed by testing with strategy 2 in [57].
3) P
= constant
This control method is based on constant t
and t
times but
with the additional requirement, that the power losses P
kept constant. This requirement is achieved by controlling the
gate voltage or current to compensate an increase in the
voltage drop V
. This strategy is much less severe for a
module, as it reduces the acceleration effect of different failure
modes, and results in a significant increased number of cycles
to failure. In this case, the number of cycles to failure
increases to 120% compared with strategy 1 [57].
4) ΔT
= constant
This latest strategy supervises T
and T
and reduces t
the current load I
to keep this parameter constant. This
compensates all degradation effects and leads to the highest
lifetime. Indeed, the number of cycles to failure increases to
220% in comparison with the reference [57].
It is therefore essential to know the control strategy, if APC
tests are to be compared.
The complexity in interpreting and comparing different
APC studies also comes from the interdependence of all
failure mechanisms and the influence of diverse test
parameters. Recently, a pure statistical analysis [50] of a
significant number of APC tests suggested the impact of
several parameters, in addition to ΔT
and T
known from the
LESIT project. In this analysis, the power on-time t
, the wire
bond thickness d
, the current density and the chip’s voltage
class are shown as parameters influencing the lifetime.
Different methods to simulate APC exist. Some papers are
simulating APC via an equivalent electronic RC circuit with a
current source. The electric current corresponds to the power
loss, the voltage of the resistor corresponds to the temperature
difference ΔT
, the electrical capacitance C to the thermal
capacitance C
and the electrical resistance to the thermal
resistance R
[66]. Boundary Element Method (BEM) and
Finite Element Method (FEM) are also often employed. Those
methods will be the center of our interest. Simulating APC
with FEM is more complex than simulating PTC. Indeed, for
APC a coupling of analyses, like an electro-thermal analysis
or a thermo-mechanical analysis, is required. For an electro-
thermal simulation, first an electrical analysis is made: the
electrical properties of the different materials should be
registered (electrical conductivity, resistivity...) and a current
pulse is simulated as the loading condition. At the end of this
first analysis, the voltage mapping of the device in function of
the time is known. This voltage mapping will then be the load
in the second analysis, the thermal one. The thermal properties
of the material (specific heat, heat conductivity) should also be
implemented in the model as well as some thermal boundary
conditions. For example, the environment temperature, and the
heat sink temperature. After calculation, the temperature
mapping of the device in function of the time is determined. In
a thermo-mechanical analysis, the loading conditions for the
first analysis are thermal. The environment and heat sink
temperature, and/or convection factor of the air or of the
cooling system should be known. Then, an internal heat
generation is simulated in the chip for a determined time. This
corresponds to the current pulse of APC. Of course, the
thermal material properties are also registered. After
calculation the temperature distribution of the device in
function of the time is available. This temperature distribution
will then be the load in the second analysis, the mechanical
one. The mechanical properties (Young’s modulus, Poisson’s
coefficient, CTE) are implemented. A boundary condition
such as a fixation point is added. Then the mechanical analysis
delivered a deformation map of the module from which
stresses and strains are derived. In some few papers, electro-
thermal simulation is followed by a thermo-mechanical
simulation to accurately simulate APC. As this coupling of
analyses required a long calculation time, some
approximations should be made by modeling the device. For
example, a 3D model with symmetries can be reduced to 2D,
or the mesh can be refined in important areas but coarsen in
others. Models can also be focused only on the layers of
interest, like wire bonds, or a bi-layer with the die and its
metallization. Another way of modeling can be to represent
the whole module but without the thinnest layers. The
accuracy of material properties is also an issue, as
implemented e.g. complex viscoplastic behavior will increase
the calculation time, in the case of a mechanical analysis. A
way to solve this problem is to consider all material layers
having a simple linear behavior, except the material of interest
which can be precisely modeled with temperature
dependencies and a plasticity model.
V. A
Abundant studies on APC have been carried out since 1994,
but with different goals. In most publications, one material
layer of the power device constitutes the center of interest of
the study. The layer being under focus depends on the
preponderant failure mechanism occurring in the module. The
main failure mechanisms that are usually taking place in
power electronics modules are:
- Bond wire fatigue
- Aluminum reconstruction and ratcheting
- Solder fatigue
- Delamination at the interface between
- Chip cracking
Bond wires are often reported as the weakest component of
power modules, responsible for device failures [15, 16, 37].
The bond wire lift-off failure is caused by the CTE mismatch
between the Si of the chip (2,8 ppm/K) and the Al wire (23,5
ppm/K). Plastic strain accumulates in Al as it is a ductile
material and after a number of cycles, the interface is
destroyed and the wire lifts off.
The CTE mismatch between Si and Al is also responsible
for the reconstruction of the Al metallization, an Al layer
located just on top of the chip. The plastic strain accumulates
in the Al metallization during pulsed operation and leads to a
texture change of the layer [17]. In molded packages, the Al
metallization can also suffer from ratcheting due to a CTE
mismatch between Si and mold [18, 87].
Solder layers represent a critical interface in power
assemblies, as lead-free and lead-rich solder alloys used in
power devices exhibit a CTE which is heavily mismatched
with that of Si and DCB or Cu lead frame. Creep strain
accumulates in solder layers and after some cycles some
cracks appear.
Interfacial delamination is one of the major reliability issues
of electronic packages encapsulated by a mold. Due to a CTE
mismatch, the interface between the molding compound and
Cu lead frame is often a weak link. Indeed, under cyclic
thermal variations, the CTE mismatch leads to incompatible
thermal strains along materials interfaces, and initiates
delamination [19].
Micro die cracks can occur during the manufacturing
process through crystal growth, wafer scrubbing and slicing
and die separation and during wire bonding or soldering [20].
Due to the CTE mismatch between Si and substrates, tensile
stresses at the center of the chip and shear stresses at the edges
are developed during pulsed operation. This leads to cracks
growth by stable fatigue propagation and can cause brittle
failure of the die [15, 21].
Thus wire bonds or Al metallization or solder layers or chip
or molding compounds can constitute the center of interest of
a study in order to analyze the failure mechanisms that are
taking place in that specific location. Moreover, final
objectives of studies can differ. For some studies the goal is to
understand a failure mechanism. Therefore this mechanism
can be analyzed at different scales (macro and micro), or some
comparisons can be made regarding the type of failure
mechanisms and their evolutions under 2 different test
conditions. Then, influences of the module’s design on the
apparition of failure can be studied. Test parameters also have
an influence on the development of failure mechanisms and
this can be studied as well. Finally after having understood
failure mechanism and studied the influence of test parameters
the last step is to determine the lifetime model of the
mechanism in function with test parameters.
In order to have a clear overview about all the APC tests that
were performed until now, 70 publications from 1993 to 2014
were reviewed [25-95]. For all these papers, the quantity of
modules tested, the type of modules, the test conditions as
well as the analysis methods, the goal of studies and the
lifetime estimations are reported and analyzed
A. Quantity and type of device tested
First of all, the number of samples tested per publication was
reported and its distribution is plotted in Fig. 8. For some
papers the number of samples per test run was missing, so the
quantity was assumed to be one. The statistical power is
important to know in order to recognize significant effects
between different APC tests. As there are minor deviations in
the production parameters, the result for every sample can
differ, therefore a minimum of 10-15 samples per test is
generally required to obtain reliable results.
Fig. 8: Distribution of the number of tested samples per publication
As can be seen from the Fig. 8, most papers are generally
tested up to 10 samples or less. In a few cases, more than 100
devices were tested in total. But in 86% of cases there is only
one sample per test run.
The type of semiconductors that were submitted to APC
was analyzed Fig. 9. It reveals that with a frequency of 65%
the vast majority of tests are performed with IGBT. Then,
come diode and MOSFET, both with about 10% of testing
frequency. DMOS (Double-Diffused MOS), TRIAC (Triode
for Alternating Current), HDTMOS (Third Generation of High
Density TMOS), JFET (Junction Gate Field-Effect
Transistor), and transistor were also tested but in small
proportion. Here, the supremacy of IGBT on all other types of
semiconductor appears clearly.
Fig. 9. Histogram showing the type of semiconductors tested per publication
Details regarding the internal structure of the modules
undergoing testing were also investigated. The most
widespread interconnect is the Al wire, representing 85% of
interconnects; 5% of the tested modules had either Cu wires or
a Cu clip as interconnects and fewer had Ag stripes or Al-clad
Cu wires (Fig. 10).
Fig. 10. Histogram showing the type of interconnects in the tested modules
Concerning the metallization layer on top of the chip, 94%
of the modules had a metallization made of an aluminum alloy
(e.g. AlSiCu or AlCu…). Only 6% of them had a Cu
The die itself, was made of silicon, except for 4% of the
modules which had a chip of silicon carbide SiC.
The die was attached to its substrate mostly via soldering.
Only 12% of the dies were attached with Ag sintering. The
solder alloy used for the die attach was quite often not
mentioned. By analyzing the available data on solder alloys,
one can see on Fig. 11 that a short majority of modules are
using lead-free solder rather than lead-rich solder. Diffusion
soldering remains an exception.
The substrate is at 90% a DCB, at 6% a Cu lead frame and
at 4% a Printed Circuit Board (PCB). In almost half of the
cases, the exact type of DCB was not mentioned, but
concerning the available data, Fig. 12 shows that DCB with
is preferred to DCB with AlN.
60% of the modules are designed with a base plate. Among
those modules, the majority had a Cu base plate, whereas the
others had a new AlSiC or an Al base plate (Fig. 13).
Fig. 11. Histogram showing the type of solder for the die attach in the tested
Fig. 12. Histogram showing the type of DCB in the tested modules
Fig. 13. Histogram showing the type of base plate in the tested modules
Fig. 14. Histogram showing the type of solder for the DCB attach of the
tested modules
The DCB attach, which corresponds to the joint between the
lower Cu layer of the DCB and the base plate, is achieved at
96% via soldering. The rest of the joints are Ag sintered. For
more than 60% of the solder joints, the type of alloy used was
not specified. But, by analyzing the collected data, it clearly
appears that for this joint, lead-rich alloys are by far preferred
(Fig. 14). Indeed, in order to avoid the remelting of the alloy
used for the die attach during soldering steps in production,
high-lead alloys with melting points above 260°C are used.
Due to a lack of cost-effective lead-free alternatives, those
alloys are exempt from RoHS.
Finally, only 18% of the tested modules are epoxy-molded.
To summarize, most of the DUTs were standard IGBT
modules, with Al wires, a lead-free die attach, a DCB soldered
with a lead-rich alloy on a Cu base plate, and without any
encapsulants. But one should also notice that quite often a lot
of information was missing, such as the type of solder for both
the die attach and the DCB attach, as well as the type of DCB
that was used.
B. Test methods
Now let’s analyze the variety of testing conditions. First
concerning the cooling method, fluid-cooling systems are used
at 65%, whereas air-cooling systems are used at only 35%.
Moving on to the art of APC test performed, almost all tests
are performed with the DC current test bench. Only 5% of the
tests are PWM tests and not a single paper studied the
behavior of modules under this superimposed test. This comes
from the fact that setting up a test bench able to perform PWM
or a combination of PTC and APC is far more complicated
than setting up a conventional DC test bench.
The test strategy chosen in 65% is the strategy fixing
constant time intervals for t
and t
(Fig. 15). Almost 20% of
tests are done with the “ΔT
= constant” control method. This
is the preferred testing method, when a multitude of test
equipments are connected to a single common cooling loop.
Finally, 10% of the tests are using the “ΔT
= constant” and
6% the “P
= constant” control methods. Their use remains for
academic purposes, or to separate failure modes.
Fig. 15. Histogram showing the test strategies used to test modules
Regarding the measurement of the junction temperature T
(Fig. 16), the preferred method is the Thermo-Sensitive
Parameter (TSP). Optic fibers and thermocouples are used in
about 10% of cases. The Infra-red method, despite its accuracy
is used only in 5% of cases due to its expensive cost. One can
notice that the TSP method is sometimes coupled with a direct
measurement method.
Fig. 16. Histogram showing the junction temperature’s measurement methods
There is quite a large variety of failure criteria (Fig. 17).
The criterion can be based on 6 different parameters: V
, R
, R
, I
, or T
. Then the amount of the parameter
increase also varies depending on the papers: 5%, 10% or 20%
of parameter increases are often used. In some papers no
failure criterion is defined and the test lasts until the complete
failure of the device, which is referred as the End of Life of
the device. Most of tests take an increase of 5% in V
and of
20% in R
as failure criteria, often in combination. An
increase of 20% in V
is also used as failure criterion in 13%
of the tests. The use of R
as failure criteria is beginning to
Fig. 17. Histogram showing the failure criteria in use
Finally the variation of different test parameters (T
, ΔT
and t
) was reported. Fig. 18 shows that 39% of the papers
did not cycle under different test parameters. Those papers in
general are more focused on the understanding of failure
mechanisms. For the other papers, the variation of the ΔT
often studied. This is done with the perspective of establishing
a lifetime curve in function of ΔT
. Variation of T
is also quite
common. But it is remarkable that only about 6% of
publications are interested in the influence of t
on APC
results. This is a very small amount.
Fig. 18. Histogram showing the test parameters variations studied
This review of the different testing methods used by the 70
publications dealing with APC reveals a quite large variety in
terms of control strategies used, as well as temperature
measurement methods and failure criteria applied. This can
generate a widespread range of the number of cycles to failure
for the same kind of module under investigation.
C. Results analysis and interpretations
In most of cases, once APC tests are done, a failure analysis
is performed. About 35% of the publications are scanning the
modules with an Acoustic Microscope (SAM) in order to
detect delamination. An Optical Microscope (OM) and a
Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) are both used to
analyze 17% of the samples. Cross-sections in the samples are
often cut for a detailed observation of the internal structure
(15%). More rarely specimens are investigated with
techniques like X-ray, Focused Ion Beam (FIB), Differential
Interference Contrast Microscope (DICM) or Transmission
Electron Microscope (TEM). In papers focusing on wire
bonds, shear or pull tests were performed on connected wires,
to evaluate their degradation range (Fig. 19).
Fig. 19. Histogram showing the observations and tests methods in use
Failure analyses are often dedicated to study one particular
layer of the module (Fig. 20). In more than 30% of cases, the
die attach is the center of interest, followed by wire bonds
studied in 28% of papers. The chip metallization on top of the
chip is also frequently observed (18%), as well as the DCB
attach (15%). These results are quite logical as the main
failure mechanisms appearing in power modules are wire bond
lift-offs or cracking and delamination of solder layers. The Al
reconstruction is also a failure mechanism known and
discussed since the beginning of APC [28]. The chip and the
DCB are not really in focus as failures rarely occur there. The
formation and growth of intermetallic at solder layers is
observed only in the few papers that are studying deeply the
micro-structural changes. The molding compound is also
rarely studied, probably because only 18% of the tested
devices were encapsulated.
Fig. 20. Histogram showing the layers of interest in failure analyses
The final goals of those studies were identified and
classified into 10 categories (Fig. 21). The influence of the
design and the process is the most important goal with a
frequency of 23%. In these studies, differences between the
same type of semiconductor coming from different
manufacturers, or modules with different geometries and/or
dimensions, or even with different materials or joining
processes are investigated and compared. Often it results in a
comparison of lifetime models. Lifetime prediction is
frequently the ultimate goal of APC publications (20%).
Quite often the lifetime predictions are modeled in the form of
a curve in function of ΔT
, which necessitate studying the
influence of the temperature (T
and ΔT
). Before, in order to
be able to develop a lifetime model, the failure mechanisms
first had to be known and understood, that is why 14% of the
papers are doing failure analyses. To monitor and detect
failure apparition, a correlation between the evolution of one
parameter and the corresponding failure status would be of
great help. This was done in 9% of the studies, with for
example a correlation determined between the R
value and
the delamination area in the die attach [25]. Some other
publications are proposing adequate testing methods to
investigate either solder degradations or wire bond failures, or
some control strategies to reflect well-working conditions. A
comparison between failure mechanisms occurring in PTC and
APC was made in a few papers [84, 85]. For some others, the
main goal was to have a precise idea of the temperature
distribution in the whole module, or to investigate the effects
of t
on APC results, or to study the micro-structural
mechanisms that are taking place in different layers in detail.
It results in most studies focusing on determining the
lifetime of improved devices in function of the temperature
swing, with wire bonds and solder degradation as the main
failure mechanisms. Which makes sense as the semiconductor
lifetime is a key factor for a sustainable use of devices and the
optimization of its reliability.
Fig. 21. Histogram showing the goals of the studies
D. Lifetime prediction
In order to have an overview of all the APC results obtained
from 1993 until now, all the number of failed cycles that were
published versus the temperature swings were plotted in Fig.
22. The interpretation of the graph is limited because as just
seen, many different devices were tested, with different test
conditions. Moreover, the lifetime is not only dependent on
the temperature swing but also on other test parameters, thus
influencing the results of the tests. However, the temperature
swing is a parameter of such large importance, that a trend line
can emerge from the graphic.
Fig. 22. Number of cycles to failure versus the temperature swing ΔT
The number of cycles to failure versus T
was plotted in
Fig. 23. T
is also a test parameter of influence but, here it is
difficult to make any interpretations of the results or to
distinguish a trend line.
Fig. 23. Number of cycles to failure versus the minimum junction temperature
Finally the influence of the heating time t
on the lifetime
was studied Fig. 24. Unfortunately this information was often
missing, which resulted in a smaller data set than for the other
diagrams. Some papers did state the cycle times but without
mentioning the ratio of on and off times.
Fig. 24. Number of cycles to failure versus the heating time t
This study shows that despite the fact that most of the
publications are investigating standard modules with a focus
on wire bonds and solder degradations, the variety of test set-
ups, measurement and monitoring methods as well as control
strategies significantly influenced the APC results. The
diversity of testing methods was also highlighted by [1]. For
the authors, this might be due to the fact that an international
standard for APC does not exist. In fact, there are several
standards [22, 23, 24] that differ in regards to the main focus
of the test.
Moreover, the study reveals that the influence of test
parameters on the lifetime was not extensively studied. The
influence of the heating time was especially neglected. This
can be partially explained by the fact that testing a high
number of cycles requires long testing times of several
months. This implies that testing a wide-range of application
conditions is not feasible. To overcome all these difficulties, a
solution could be to simulate APC. Indeed, the problem of
testing method diversity would be reduced, and it would no
longer be time consuming to simulate APC with varying test
In the same way as it was done for APC tests, 27 publications
from 1997 to 2014 dealing with APC simulations were
reviewed [77-104]. All simulations were using FEM except
two of them, both of which chose BEM in order to simplify
the problem to solve [78, 79].
A. Types of device simulated
First of all, the type of the component under study was
analyzed, Fig. 25. IGBTs are once again the preferred device
as they are simulated in 65% of publications. Then, come
MOSFETs and diodes which are both modeled in
approximately 10% of the papers studied. TRIAC and DMOS
are rarely modeled as these two kinds of devices appear only
in 7% of publications; 75% of these devices were modeled in
3D, and only 25% in 2D.
Fig. 25. Histogram showing the type of semiconductors simulated
The internal architecture of the different models was also
observed. For 56% of simulations, interconnects were not part
of the model, when those were supposed to be Al wires. This
can be explained by the fact that modeling a wire is complex,
because of its geometry. So, if the study is not especially
focused on wire bonds, those ones can be removed from the
model for the sake of simplicity. On the other hand, 32% of
publications did pay attention to the wires’ behavior by
including them in the model. Cu clips, Al stripes and Cu
wires were modeled as interconnects respectively in 7%, 4%
and 1% of papers (Fig. 26). When Al wires were modeled,
they were considered to have linear elastic properties except in
one a paper [103] which included temperature dependencies
and plastic properties. Ag stripes were also modeled with an
elasto-plastic behavior, whereas Cu clips and wires were
described as linear elastic material.
Almost all devices simulated were supposed to have a
metallization of aluminum, but this layer was modeled in only
22% of simulations. On the other hand, every time that the
metallization was included in a model, it was with precise
material models that took both the temperature dependencies
and the elasto-plastic behavior of Al into account. The die
itself was made of silicon except for 2% of cases which had
SiC, and the die was always modeled with a linear elastic
Fig. 26. Histogram showing the type of interconnect of simulated modules
Fig. 27. Histogram showing the type of solder alloy in the die attach of
simulated modules
For the die attach, only 8% were Ag sinter joints, the rest
was solder joints. Among these solder joints, lead free alloys
were used in a majority of cases with 43% of occurrence while
lead rich solders were used in 34% of solder layers (Fig. 27).
The solder alloy was not mentioned in 23% of papers.
Concerning the mechanical behavior of these die attaches,
almost 50% were described with a viscoplastic model. Plastic-
creep and elastic-plastic models were both employed in about
12% of publications. In 10% of simulations, a simple elastic
model was applied for the joint and the other papers did not
mention anything on material properties (Fig. 28).
The die was attached to a DCB in 84% of the simulated
devices, 9% had a Cu lead frame and the 7% left a PCB (Fig.
29). The type of DCB used was made with Al
ceramic to
40% and with AlN to 27%.
The remaining 32% did not specify the type of DCB, which
is already a high amount. Copper layers of DCB were
considered elastic or elasto-plastic and the ceramic was always
linear elastic (Fig. 30).
Fig. 28. Histogram showing the die attach mechanical behaviors of simulation
Fig. 29. Histogram showing the type of substrate in simulated modules
Fig. 30. Histogram showing the type of DCB in modules simulated
33% of modules simulated did not have a base plate. The
others were built with a Cu base plate, described with elastic
or elasto-plastic material model. The DCB was always
soldered to the base plate. In 40% of papers no information
concerning the solder alloy was found. A lead-rich alloy was
employed in 32% and the 28% left were soldered with lead
free alloy (Fig. 31).
Fig. 31. Histogram showing the type of solder in DCB attach of simulated
27% of papers did not precise what material model was
used to describe the mechanical behavior of solder. More than
30% of simulations were performed assuming a viscoplastic
behavior for solders, whereas plastic-creep, elasto-plastic and
elastic behavior were used in 14% each. For the DCB attach,
less information was available about the material model than
for the die attach. Nevertheless, both distributions are
following the same trend with a predominance of viscoplastic
models compared to elastic, elasto-plastic or plastic-creep
models (Fig. 32).
Fig. 32. Histogram showing the type of DCB attach mechanical behaviors in
simulated modules
Only 14% of modules were epoxy molded. For 25% of
them, the mechanical behavior of the mold was not mentioned.
Half of the papers considered the molding compound to be
elastic, whereas only 25% took the viscoplastic behavior of
the encapsulant into account.
To summarize, the type of modules that were simulated in
publications correspond to the ones which were submitted to
APC tests. Indeed, IGBT is once again the most studied
device. Most of the time, the internal architecture corresponds
to a standard structure with Al wires, a chip soldered on a
DCB, which is soldered onto a Cu base plate. But in
simulations, one can simplify the model to be studied, and
quite frequently the Al wire bonds were not included in the
model because of their complex geometry. The same was also
observed for the metallization, which was often neglected due
to its very small dimensions. Quite often, information about
materials and their assumed behavior were missing, especially
concerning the DCB and DCB attach. Moreover, a relatively
wide-variety of material models were used in the different
B. Types of analysis and loading conditions
The most stimulated APC test is the DC current test, in 90%
of the papers studied. PWM tests and superimposed tests are
each simulated in about 5% of the cases. This distribution of
simulated tests is similar to the one of experimental tests. This
is due to the fact that simulation models are often validated
with the help of experiments. Indeed, results of both
experiments and simulations are compared and should be
similar. Moreover, just like for experiments, simulating DC
current tests is easier than simulating PWM tests or
superimposed tests. However, it is to notice that superimposed
tests were simulated, whereas no experimental tests were
performed. This shows that even though superimposed tests
are complex to model, it is still easier to simulate such a test
than to set up a complete test bench.
The type of analysis use to simulate APC was also taken
into account. 26% of simulations are electro-thermal and 67%
are thermo-mechanical analysis. Some papers did both kinds
of simulations, one after the other [97, 99, 101, 103]. The 7%
left were purely thermal simulations.
Fig. 33. Histogram showing the type of variations studied with simulation
The different parameter variations and design effects
studied were identified and plotted in Fig. 33. 30% of papers
did not manage to perform any variations of neither the test
parameters nor the design. 22% made variations in
geometrical design, materials and processes. ΔT
and t
variations were studied in respectively 9% and 12% of
simulations. 7% of papers choose to respectively study
variations of cooling systems, the effect of fatigue by
including delamination areas in the model, and crack
propagation under APC. A few other studies focused on the
variations of T
. This shows that a wide-range of test
parameters variations was studied in a relatively small amount
of publications.
C. Results analysis and interpretations
Layers on which papers are focusing were reported, and the
corresponding distribution is shown Fig. 34. The first layer of
interest appears clearly: the die attach was in focus in 36% of
papers. The chip comes in second with 26% of papers that
concentrate on its behavior. Wire bonds are also of big interest
for 10% of studies. The DCB and metallization have both 9%
of publications focusing on them. Surprisingly the DCB attach
was the object of study for only 8% of papers. The difference
in interest between the die attach and DCB attach is quite
important, although both solder joints are subjected to
degradation under APC. This can be explained by the fact that
not every module had a base plate and thus a DCB attach
layer. But it might also come from the fact that solder
degradations are more extensively studied under PTC, as this
test is more critical for solder layers due to the long dwelling
time. The interconnect attach is also not frequently studied, as
this layer is only present in modules using a Cu clip instead of
wire bonds.
Fig. 34. Histogram showing the layers of interest in simulations
Fig. 35. Histogram showing the outputs of interest in simulations
The results obtained via simulations were analyzed, and 4
main outputs of interest emerged from them: temperature,
deformation, stress and strain. These results were often shown
as a map of the entire module. The voltage was also often
observed, but it was not taken into account here, as the study
is more focused on the thermal and mechanical behavior of
modules rather than on their electrical behavior. Determining
the temperature distribution through the module was the first
interest of these studies. In about 45% of publications a
temperature map was shown. Stresses and strains were also of
importance, as each of them is discussed in 25% of papers.
The deformation was observed only in a few papers which
were looking more precisely at the phenomenon of
metallization reconstruction [87, 90] (Fig. 35).
Finally the different goals of the studies were highlighted
and plotted in Fig. 36. For 24% of papers studied, the main
objective remains to understand the mechanisms that take
place in modules. Then, 20% of papers focus on design and
process optimization. The lifetime prediction is a goal of more
than 15% of simulations. 11% of papers wanted to
characterize and understand the differences between PTC and
APC. Determining the influence of temperature on the number
of cycles to failure was also an important point. Some papers
look at the influence of fatigue on the APC results, for
example by simulating a delamination area in a solder layer.
Others wanted to determine the temperature profile of the
module during power pulses. Papers which have made PWM
power cycling manage to compare the results obtained with
both DC current and PWM tests. Few studies also investigated
the influence of cooling systems on the APC results of a
module. Finally, very few simulations had the objective of
studying the influence of the heating time t
on the behavior
of the module. This is quite surprising, as once the model is
set up, simulation could be an appropriate tool when testing
different combinations of test parameters. One can also notice
that the goal was quite different depending on the study; a
relatively large range of aspects influencing APC results was
reviewed. But the main problem remains to understand
mechanisms, optimize design and determine the lifetime of
Fig. 36. Histogram showing the goals of the simulations studies
These statistics give an overview on APC simulation studies
and reveal the simulation trends in power electronics. But
relations between the architecture of the module, the method
employed to simulate materials behavior and the objectives to
reach, are not visible. Thus, the Table 1 describes the module
and the material behavior simulated as well as the objective of
each study. Information is given for all the 27 papers dealing
with APC simulation that were reviewed.
ET: Electro-Thermal
T: Thermal
TM: Termo-mechanical
Table 1: Summary of module and material model simulated in relation with the objectives of the studies
D. Lifetime prediction based on simulations
Numbers of cycles to failure obtained with simulation were
plotted in function of the temperature swing ΔT
, Fig. 37. The
quantity of data available was quite limited. The difference in
the number of data obtained with papers performing APC tests
is really important. Plotting the lifetime prediction in function
with the heating time or the T
was not even possible
because of missing data.
To conclude this review, FEM simulations are still not
extensively used to study APC. Until now, studies using
simulations are concentrated on standard modules with Al
wires as interconnect, an IGBT chip soldered to a DCB,
soldered itself to a Cu base plate and without encapsulation.
Models are often simplified and do not take all actual present
layers in the module into account. Too many times, the
material model was not mentioned and for some materials the
model used to describe the mechanical behavior was not
precise enough. Studies are mainly focused on the die attach,
the chip and wire bonds. The temperature distribution is still
of prime interest, before stress and strain distribution. Main
goals of these studies are: first to understand the mechanisms
occurring; then optimize the design of modules and predict the
lifetime. The influence of many different effects on different
test parameters was studied, but only superficially. As of now,
no publication which has managed to test different
combinations of parameters and report their influences on
APC results has been found. In simulations just like for
experiments the study of the influence of heating time on
modules under APC is neglected. But one should take
advantage of simulation and intensively study the influence of
different combination of parameters on the mechanical
behavior of modules. Indeed, in simulation, once a model is
set up and validated, it is quite easy to modify some
parameters and restart an analysis.
Fig. 37. Number of cycles to failure predicted via simulation versus the
temperature swing ΔTj
This review of studies on APC tests and simulations reveals
that until now, the power modules under study correspond to
standard modules with Al wires bonded to a Si chip soldered
on a DCB, itself soldered on a Cu base plate and without
epoxy molding compounds. It is only very recently that a few
publications are managing to study modules with new
technologies like SiC chip or Cu wires or clip or Ag sinter
joint. Moreover, it was highlighted that a variety of test
methods are available to perform APC tests, leading to quite
different reliability results. This leads to think that one
international standard should be defined to regulate the
practice of APC tests. Besides, performing APC test is time
consuming and impedes to carry out a thorough study on the
influence of tests parameters on the reliability of power
modules. Thus numerical simulations can be considered as an
interesting tool used to overcome these experimental
difficulties and analyze the behavior of power modules under
varying test conditions. But actually, the use of simulations to
determine the power cycling reliability is still quite recent and
not very common. Less than half the number of papers dealing
with APC tests was found regarding APC simulations.
Furthermore, these studies dealing with APC simulations had
quite different goals and were focusing mainly on one or two
determined layers. This meaning that, despite the easy
reproducibility of an analysis and the rapidity of calculation
allowed by simulations, no extensive numerical study on the
influence of test parameter on reliability was carried out.
Thus, this review highlights a lack of numerical investigations
on the influence of tests parameters, especially for power
modules with new technologies.
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... Considering device power losses continuously heats the power devices during its mission profile, thermal stress is generated in wire and pad. Therefore, wire bonding is often the weakest part of such classes of power devices, for example the power modules [3]. According to this, characterization techniques are needed to monitor wire bonding process and to optimize the reliability performances in costumer application. ...
... Sect. 3 explains the experimental and numerical methods" presenting the sample fabrication (Sect. 3 ...
... It induces the thermal fatigue on package by forcing heating current into the device [9]. This kind of stress is very close to the real one achieved during the operative lifetime and can lead to wire bonding failure [3]. According to the importance of this test, it has been often considered to develop numerical model for forecasting lifetime in application conditions as function of main parameters, such as temperature swing, maximum temperature and the time duration of power pulse [10][11][12]. ...
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Copper is nowadays replacing the traditional gold in wire bonding interconnections, due to lower cost, better thermal/electrical properties and reliability performances. The increased hardness of Cu imposes higher bonding force and ultrasonic power during the wire-bonding process, increasing the risk of stress-induced bondpad damage. The aim of the presented work has been the modeling and characterization of stress and deformations resulting from the ball-bonding phase in order to have a quantitative method able to optimize the process set-up and the manufacturing capabilities already at design level. A finite element model has been developed and benchmarked with experimental samples obtained by freezing the ball bonding process at different steps, on which the deformations occurred in the bonded copper ball and in the bondpad layers have been measured through Xe plasma focused ion beam (Plasma-FIB) cross sections.
... Moreover, the capacitive and inductive coupling resulting from the Al wire interconnects between the semiconductor pads and package can introduce several issues. Additionally, results of paralleling include electrical isolation failures, increased noise and cross-talk, and, in general, reduced performance [3][4][5][6][7]. Bond wires are a major source of parasitic circuit elements, and researchers have shown that one of the main reasons for power semiconductor failure is due to parasitic effects. ...
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This paper demonstrates the feasibility of the printed copper (Cu) paste interconnects for applications in power semiconductor modules and switching converters. Copper sinter paste interconnects denoted as “Sinterconnects” have been recently introduced as an alternative to wire-bonding technology for power electronic device packaging. However, the electrical domain properties of these novel interconnects have not yet been investigated in detail. To address this research opportunity, this paper evaluates the performance of two different types of Sinterconnects applied to multi-chip, insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) power modules. First, parasitic or stray inductances of these Sinterconnected systems are calculated analytically and by using three-dimensional finite element (FE) analysis. In addition to that, resistivity (ρ) of those has been analysed and compared with conventional wire bond technology. Finally, the performances of the Sinterconnects in power device assemblies are experimentally investigated. Two Sinterconnect structures (i.e., printed Cu paste and Cu clip attach) as well as a state-of-the-art wire-bonded IGBT module, have been integrated into a switching DC-DC converter and benchmarked. Experimental measurements show how converters with Sinterconnects enable efficient power conversion.
... In the picking solution, there are subdivisions for different scenarios. Aiming at high-precision picking and unloading operations, ABB currently launches the IRB360 FlexPicker TM second-generation triangular robot solution [25]. For applications that need to achieve six-axis flexibility, require slightly lower cycle time, and have a payload of no more than 5 kg, ABB has launched the IRB 140 robot solution; in the packaging industry, ABB has launched the IRB260 robot solution. ...
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The arrival of 5G will usher in an era of “Internet of Everything.” Massive Internet of Things data contains great value in the dynamic analysis of alternative elements of automated packaging systems. From the perspective of the realization of personalized customization functions, this article solves the problem of dynamic analysis of alternative elements in the automated packaging system. We analyze the connection mechanism and interaction method between the cloud service system layer and the mobile terminal service layer, and carry out the corresponding software design. From the perspective of the realization of the intelligent production of the system in this paper, this topic mainly studies the information interaction mechanism and production control mechanism of the cloud service system and the manufacturing system. Based on the hardware of the manufacturing system layer, a flexible production implementation mechanism is formulated to make it the basis for the implementation of intelligent production of the system. Based on the massive data processing capabilities of the cloud service system, the information processing mechanism and the production planning decision-making mechanism are formulated for it, so as to realize the intelligent adjustment of the manufacturing system layer in the production process. For the connection scenario of IoT group paging, based on the application of NB-IoT technology in the next-generation mobile communication network, the focus of network optimization is to ensure the random access performance of IoT devices as much as possible. To this end, this paper proposes a random access optimization strategy for IoT group paging based on time slot scattering. We establish a mathematical model based on queuing theory for the connection scenario of the Io T group paging, then use the mathematical formula to derive the number of IoT devices scattered to each time slot in the initial state, thereby deriving the specific time slot scattering algorithm. This paper establishes a list of credit nodes, changes the participation mode of consensus nodes from static to dynamic, and supports voting to select trusted nodes. We designed a credit evaluation mechanism as a basis for consensus node elections to improve system’s fault tolerance rate. The algorithm process was simplified, and the PBFT algorithm process was simplified from a 3-phase protocol to a 2-phase protocol to further reduce communication bandwidth overhead and algorithm time. Simulation analysis shows that, compared with the PBFT algorithm, the proposed algorithm improves node flexibility and fault tolerance while reducing communication bandwidth overhead by about 45%, packaging throughput by about 4%, and latency by about 3%.
... Dynamic current derating can be employed at high temperatures to ensure the best trade-off between performance and safe operation [1]. Given the ever-present pressure toward improving the performance of power electronic converters, perfect knowledge of power devices' junction temperatures would allow pushing the operating points to the limits of SOAs [2], especially during thermal cycling operation [3], to the benefit of power density, or to strike the optimal balance between performance and durability, if reliability statistics are known [4]. ...
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The on-state voltage of MOSFETs is a convenient and powerful temperature-sensitive electric parameter (TSEP) to determine the junction temperature, thus enabling device monitoring, protection, diagnostics and prognostics. The main hurdle in the use of the on-state voltage as a TSEP is the per-device characterization procedure, to be carried out in a controlled environment, with high costs. In this paper, we compare two novel techniques for MOSFET junction temperature estimation: controlled shoot-through and direct heating by resistive heaters embedded in two Kapton (polyimide) films. Both allow in-place characterization of the TSEP curve with the device mounted in its final circuit and assembly, including the working heat sink. The two methods are also validated against the conventional procedure in a thermal chamber.
Power electronics are key-enablers of several industry trends, such as more efficient renewable energy harvesting, eco-friendly mobility and many more. With their uprising use and versatility the requirement for these packages is steadily increasing; thus leading to an evermore complex electro-thermo-mechanical loading situation. On the one side, external loads such as vibrations or weather extremes leading to challenging thermal loading situations are present. On the other side, internal loads generated by the active semiconductor within a power package result in high temperature loads as well as high temperature gradients; promoting several failure modes caused by arising thermo-mechanical stresses. Consequently, the proper design of the thermal management of these devices plays a key role in their reliability. To this end, a multi-physics multi-domain approach is proposed to improve the operational reliability of power packages, by precisely describing the actual loading situation and assessing the lifetime of the entire system. Thereby, in a global modeling approach entire PCB assemblies (PCB-A) with actively loaded power packages can be examined electro-thermo-mechanically. Based upon the results of the global model areas of interest are identified, e.g. an area with high stress concentrations, and investigated further using sub-modeling approaches and local damage modeling. To verify the developed methodologies an electro-thermal experimental test is used - a so-called Power Thermal Cycle (PTC) test. Using the proposed simulation strategy, critical areas can be determined and virtually investigated; enabling the evaluation of arbitrary power electronic systems, without the need of performing a time-consuming PTC test.
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Within a power converter, multiple currents are usually measured for control, protection and / or monitoring. They are therefore important sources of information, which must unquestionably be measured accurately to maintain continuous and reliable operation of the power converter. Accurate current measurement has however become tougher with the introduction of wide bandgap (WBG) devices with switching frequency tending towards the Megahertz (MHz) range. Because of that, the installed current sensors must have a significantly widened bandwidth. Moreover, they must be nonintrusive and compact, in order not to degrade fast switching characteristics and high power density of the WBG converter. Presently, these features are not collectively obtainable from existing commercial current sensors. Consequently, many new current sensing techniques have surfaced in the literature for usage with the more demanding MHz power converter. These new techniques, some classical techniques and their hybrid integrations are now reviewed, after overviewing functionalities made possible by current sensors in a power converter. Last but importantly, some future developmental trends aimed at matching MHz current sensors with MHz power converters are described, before concluding the paper.
One of the main bottleneck for power semiconductor durability is the solder joint reliability. A proper design of the interconnections between silicon chip and printed control board is needed to fulfill the strict industrial and automotive requirements. Considering that solders are alloys with melting temperature lower than 450 \({}^{\circ }\text {C}\), high-temperature package processes and costumer profile condition enhances the visco-plastic solder degradation, affecting the joint dimensional tolerances and reliability. The mechanical characterization of solder compounds and processes results fundamental to achieve reliability and geometric dimensioning and tolerancing targets. The presented work proposes an analytical-experimental methodology to characterize the mechanical constitutive equation of a specific solder compound widely used in semiconductor industries that is SnAgCu. Visco-plastic solder behavior with respect to environment temperature is experimental detected employing different uniaxial tensile tests considering some scenarios in terms of strain rate and temperature conditions. These outcomes are numerically post-processed to find out the Anand parameters of the analyzed solder according.
The use of molding compound as encapsulating material is nowadays increasing in semiconductor industry. Such component guarantees excellent thermal and reliability performances than the current silicone-based gel, enabling higher working temperature for semiconductor device and mitigating the solder joint reliability bottleneck. The adhesion of package interfaces between copper components and molding compound is one of the key aspect for optimized durability. Dedicated experiments and theoretical framework based on fracture mechanic are needed for this purpose. The presented activity proposes the fracture toughness characterization of copper-resin interface in a power semiconductor package. Double Cantilever Beam (DCB) test has been executed on dedicated bimaterial coupon with an initial crack at interface. The aim of this test has been to enhance the fracture propagation mode-I (opening). Strain energy release rate (SERR) and mode-mixity have been estimated from this experiment developing a finite element analysis that is able to predict the crack length during the experimental DCB trials and to predict the energy release rate by virtual crack closure technique (VCCT). Mode-mixity has been estimated collecting displacements near the crack tip by crack surface displacement method (CSD). The proposed methodology for fracture toughness characterization represents a strong pillar to predict fracture behavior due to any load conditions and it is needed to describe interface adhesion by cohesive zone method (CZM).
Conference Paper
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High power modules are still facing the challenges to increase their power output, increase the junction temperature, and increase their reliability in harsh conditions. Therefore in the full paper from this study a detail analysis of this solder joint was reported [1]. The intermetallic phases and the microstructure of standard chip to substrate solder joint will be analysed and compared to deteriorated joints coming from modules which have undergone an active thermal cycling.
Dans le cadre d'une étude de fiabilité menée sur des composants d'électronique de puissance destinés à la traction électrique, l'identification puis l'estimation des contraintes thermiques générées durant le fonctionnement sont très importantes. En effet, avec leur répétition au cours du temps, ces dernières induisent une fatigue thermique, dont la conséquence est une dégradation matérielle du composant. Ce phénomène conduit à une évolution des caractéristiques électriques et thermiques des modules de puissance et figure comme une des causes majeures de défaillances répertoriées pour la traction électrique où les contraintes de cyclage thermique sont sévères. Après avoir fait un état de l'art des composants utilisés dans la traction électrique et avoir posé les bases théoriques nécessaires à la compréhension et à la résolution de la problématique posée, nous nous sommes attachés à estimer la durée de vie de modules de puissances IGBT utilisés dans un véhicule hybride automobile. Ainsi, après un relevé, par une instrumentation originale avec fibres optiques, des températures de puces sur un véhicule en fonctionnement dans un trafic urbain, puis une identification des cycles thermiques par une méthode statistique de distribution de la température, nous avons mené des essais de cyclage thermique actif accéléré dans le but d'estimer la durée de vie de ces modules sous divers niveaux de contraintes. Enfin, grâce à une corrélation de ces deux essais, nous avons pu estimer la résistance que présentaient ces modules face à la répétition des contraintes thermiques générées et conforter ainsi le constructeur automobile dans son exigence de durée de vie. Finalement, nous nous sommes focalisés sur l'estimation des contraintes thermiques générées, dans un premier temps, dans les modules DUAL, à l'aide d'un modèle RC unidimensionnel. Puis dans un deuxième temps, avec l'utilisation d'un modèle mettant en évidence les interactions thermiques entre les puces, nous nous sommes confrontés au cas des convertisseurs intégrés multichip. Dans cette dernière étude, le modèle a été validé expérimentalement sur une chaîne de traction hybride et nous a permis d'obtenir les contraintes thermiques générées en conditions réelles de fonctionnement sur un profil de mission routier européen normalisé. Finalement, grâce à cette étude, nous avons montré l'éventail des possibilités offertes par cet outil dans la surveillance et la prédiction des contraintes thermiques générées durant le fonctionnement de convertisseurs de puissance intégrés.