Three Filipino physicist have finished the devlopment of an inexpensive technique that will help companies like Intel detect faulty Chips.
Led by physicist Caesar Saloma of the National Institute of Physics at the University of the Philippines Diliman, the group combined two existing techniques in spotting defects in intergated circuits (ICs) with more accuracy by reflecting light on the transistors and producing three dimensional image.
With the development of smaller and faster chips, the physicist said that microchip manufacturers are now finding ways to fit more transistors into a single chip which makes detecting faulty chips more difficult.
Current techniques do offer ways to pinpoint problems in intergrated circuits, but they are usually expensive, Saloma said.
One of the competing methods available in the industry uses infared light to penetrate deep layers of semiconductor materials. The light source alone, Saloma noted, cost around $200,000 compared with the $100 to $500 light source used by the Filipino reseacher.
The new method from the "Pinoys" combine the capabilitiesof a reflectance laser confocal microscope (a technology that creates three dimensional images of intergrated circuits), and the single-photonbeam- induced current imaging (a technology that uses laser to generate computer images of electric currents running through intergrated circuits).
Saloma said the new technique, being accurate and les expensive, could lead to lower production cost of ICs, thereby reducing wastage in manufacture of chips caused by undetected defects.
The group''s research has lande them in an international peer-review journal of the Optical Society of America called Applied Optics (July 10, 2002 issue) and later the Photonics Spectra (August 2002), an independent technology magazine.
The group is now applying for local and international patents.