Research Highlights / Full Story

Electronics and Optoelectronics Research

There is a complex and multidimensional aspect to the lifecycle of electronics, starting with processing silicon for integrated circuits to the development of device prototypes to the final fabrication and packaging stages before a consumer product is brought to the marketplace, said Martin Anselm—and it is a natural progression from silicon into RIT’s Center for Electronic Manufacturing and Assembly (CEMA).

Anselm, assistant professor of manu­­facturing and mechanical engineering technology in the College of Applied Science and Technology, also serves as the associate director of CEMA. 

CEMA is an academic research laboratory and manufacturing facility that is part of RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology. It’s a multipurpose facility used by students and faculty for design projects, and by industry members for research, product development, and extensive corporate training.

CEMA’S capabilities reside in two distinct areas—in developing state-of-the-art electronics assembly and manufacturing techniques using surface mount technologies, and in the analysis of electronics packaging reliability, production, and performance. The latter area is supported through several of CAST’s packaging science labs, located adjacent to the CEMA facility, for materials analysis, usability, ergonomics, and shock/vibrations testing.

Research into new circuit board tech­­nology and materials is coupled with testing facilities focused on strength of materials, predictions of the product’s life­cycle, and failure analysis, all areas important to next-generation manufacturers. 

“CEMA is about getting from something that is so small that you can’t even see it to a device that is functional,” said Anselm, who was a process research engineer and manager of failure analysis service for Universal Instruments before joining RIT.  

Current research in the lab includes improvements to package-on-package technology—the method used to 3D-stack components on printed circuit boards. Another area is in the transition from using lead-based alloys on circuit boards. Companies are eager to explore the use of alternative materials to solder components on the boards, and are collaborating with CEMA to test which material fits their needs, Anselm said. 

Package-on-package technology is more prominent, but due to restrictions in use of hazardous substances, researchers are testing both the reliability of the new technology and the learning, at the same time, the reliability of lead-free solder. 

“Over the past decade, CEMA has established a strong presence in the electronics packaging industry for its workforce training and applied research prowess, which we are extremely proud of,” said Manian Ramkumar, director of CEMA, who added that the technology is advancing, and package-on-package arrays will become more prevalent in the manufacturing industry, and may be a means to its resurgence in the United States.

Some of CEMA's Methods for Electronics Packaging Failure Anaylsis

C-Sam Analysis: Ultrasonic imaging to analyze the internal defects within components. Analysis reveals die attach adhesive delamination. 

SEM-Analysis: Scanning electron microscopy analysis revealing plating voids on a pin surface, resulting in surface oxidation and non-wetting. 

X-Ray Analysis: Solder voids under a QFN thermal pad. The presence of voids affects the thermal performance of these components.