A failure analysis has to be carried out if a component has failed unter under certain conditions or did not comply with the requirements.

It is essential to know as much as possible about the history of the respective device before starting with the analysis. Important information for example are:

  • Is there any presumption about what caused the failure?
  • What material is the device made of?
  • How was it produced?
  • Which auxiliary materials were used and how are they composed ?
  • Which loads where applied to the device and which processing steps did it run through.

Based on this information specific tests can be done to localize the cause of the failure.

For damages in the areas of adhesion, gluing or painting typically analytical techniques such as Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy (TOF-SIMS), Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) or the X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) are used to find and identify unusual or even unwanted chemical compounds in the area of failure.

In case of an adhesion failure the sample typically has to be investigated on both sides of the delaminated section. Also the adjacent bulk material often has to be analyzed. The purpose is to investigate which substances in the area of the defective interface originate from the materials themselves and which are external contaminations.

In the field of breakage or wear analyses rather microscopic techniques are typically required. In addition to classical light microscopy especially the Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and X-Ray Micro-Area Analysis (EDS) are used.