Plasma Decap/Depassivation for IC Failure Analysis

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Samco offers plasma decapsulation/depassivation solutions using experienced dry etching technologies for IC failure analysis to detect failure location/mode and improve device reliability. Our plasma etching equipment has been widely used by device manufacturers and FA labs for this application. Here are our process capabilities.


  • Deprocessing for IC Failure Analysis

The Importance of Plasma Decapsulation in Today’s Semiconductor Device Industry

Semiconductor process technologies have significantly evolved as Moore’s Law predicted.  The device structures have become much more complex in order to achieve high performance, and the footprint of these devices are getting smaller so that they can be integrated into consumer electronics such as smartphones and tablets.

While the semiconductor devices are widely used in the consumer electronics, the Internet of Things (IOT) is burgeoning, especially in the field of vehicles and industrial applications. This technology connects people and environments with lots of sensors and electronics. It will create energy-efficient and smart cities. While the IOT requires a huge amount of the devices to create the broad network of the consumer products and industrial sensors, the quality and reliability of these devices is still a big challenge.

Failure Analysis (FA) is the technique to detect a failure location and a failure mode of a device by using various methods. The information on these failures is needed to be fed-back promptly in order to improve the quality and reliability of the devices in production.

Decapsulation (sometimes called as depassivation, delayering or deprocessing) is one of the key techniques in the whole FA procedures. This technique is used to remove passivation and reveal the under-layers of the devices for subsequent inspection. acid decapping and plasma decapping technologies are widely used for the decapsulation. Acid decapping using solution such as nitric acid and sulphuric acid is a useful technique for passivation removal but it sometimes causes corrosion of metal lines such as copper and aluminum wires. plasma decapping processes using dry etching technologies are slower than acid decapping processes, however the processes can remove a specific material layer and reveal under-layers and metal lines with high selectivity.


Plasma Decapsulation Solutions

Highly Selective Etching and Removal of Various Materials

Si, Oxide, Nitride, IMD, ILD, Low k, Polyimide, Epoxy

Using plasma etching technologies, our decap processes can remove various materials with high selectivity and high aspect ratio.

(etch stop at Buried Oxide (BOX))

Borosilicate Glass (BSG), Phosphosilicate Glass (PSG) and Borophosphosilicate Glass (BPSG)
(etch stop at bulk Si)


Inter Metal Dielectric (IMD)

Inter Layer Dielectric (ILD)

Low k Dielectric



Other polymer films

The etch processses can be applied to not only decapsulation but also defect decoration.

3-layer metal exposure

3-layer Al lines exposure

3 layer metal exposure

3-layer Al lines exposure

W plug exposure with high selectivity

W plug exposure with high selectivity

Exposing up to 5 Metal Layers Without Delamination and Erosion

Samco offers highly reliable depassivation solutions.
Al lines are successfully exposed without delamination and erosion.
This technique enables layer-by-layer depassivation and failure inspection of complex-structured dies.

5-layer Al lines exposure

5-layer Al lines exposure


5-layer Al lines exposure

System Lineup from Die to 300 mm for Plasma Decapsulation

One of the unique points of Samco’s deprocessing solutions are a wide range of system lineup.
Samco offers various plasma etch systems depending on the customers’ needs.

Tabletop RIE system suitable for plasma deprocessing of die and 100 mm wafers

Table-top RIE system for dies

Samco RIE-10NR

Low cost-of-ownership open-load RIE systems

Reliable ICP etch systems, which enable low bias power processes to prevent charging and physical damage on the dies

RIE systems for plasma depassivation of 300 mm

Large-chamber systems for 300 mm or larger substrate

Endpoint Detection for Precise and Repeatable Etch Stop

Precise etch stop is demanded for reliable depassivation processes.
Samco offers an optional endpoint point detection system for the depassivation.
This system is capable of precise thickness monitoring of thin and transparent films including oxide and nitride.
It enables reproducible and fully-automated processing.

End Point Detection

Camera unit equipped with X-Y stage continuously monitors variation of refractive index right above dies and wafers.


The Benefits You Get

Advantage of SAMCO process solutions

Customer-proven solutions

Samco’s processes have contributed to quality and reliability improvement of devices from R & D stage to high-volume manufacturing at wafer fabs and FA labs.

Advantage of SAMCO process solutions

Precise and reproducible

Samco’s processes are very precise and reproducible. The processes enables layer-by-layer depassivation for subsequent inspection.

Advantage of SAMCO process solutions

A wide range of system lineup

Samco offers plasma etching systems and process solutions from die to 300 mm wafers suited for customers’ demands.

  • Samco RIE-1C


Sage Analytical Lab

Sage Analytical Lab, LLC is one of Samco’s proud customers.
A tabletop RIE system is used for dielectric and amide removal at their FA lab in San Diego.

Contact SAMCO for more product information
Any questions? Contact us for more detail.
Contact SAMCO for more product information
Any questions? Contact us for more detail.
Contact SAMCO for more product information
Any questions? Contact us for more detail.
Contact SAMCO for more product information
Contact us for more detail.

We would be happy to discuss with you to find the systems proper for your process demands.