T3Ster® (pronounced "Tris-ter") is an advanced thermal tester for thermal characterization of IC packages, LEDs and systems producing extensive thermal characteristics rapidly. A proprietary system consisting of software and hardware, T3Ster is designed to meet the needs of the semiconductor, transportation, consumer electronics and LED industries as well as R&D laboratories.
“In our lab today the T3Ster is mainly used to measure the thermal resistance of our packages in customer-specific environments. Thanks to the T3Ster, these measurements are very quick and easy to perform. With the help of the T3Ster-Master software we are not only able to give customers strong confidence that our compact thermal models are correct, but also give them insights into how the heat can be dissipated to the environment and the impact of possible faults that may occur during board assembly.”
Sir John H.J. Janssen NXP Semiconductors
Rapid Thermal Transient Testing of Single and Stacked Die Packages and LEDs
A consistent set of testing hardware and software, T3Ster is aimed at dynamic thermal characterization of packaged semiconductor devices (diodes, BJTs, power MOSFETs, IGBTs, power LEDs), stacked die and other multi-die devices.
With dedicated fixtures and software, characterization of MCPCBs and other substrates or cooling assemblies is also possible. Dedicated test environments added to T3Ster form special solutions aimed at comprehensive testing of LEDs (TeraLED) and thermal interface materials (DynTIM).
Non-destructive Component Failure Analysis
By using T3Ster, semiconductor manufacturers can design chips and ICs of superior thermal performance and publish reliable thermal data for downstream applications while equipment manufacturers can design reliable products and avoid thermally induced failures throughout the product’s lifetime.
Unlike other systems, T3Ster directly measures the actual heating or cooling curves – the thermal transient response of packaged semiconductor devices – rather than artificially composing them from individual responses. T3Ster offers extremely accurate temperature measurements (0.01° C) and 1 micro-second measurement resolution in time.
Reliability Testing with Power Cycling and Subsequent Structure Function Analysis
Die-attach failures are easily located using structure functions. Structure functions show the thermal resistance/capacitance map along the heat flow path in a semiconductor package. Irregularities in heat removal (as in the case of a faulty die attach) can be easily identified and localized with the help of the resulting diagrams.
This method is an ideal pre- and post-stress failure detection tool in reliability analysis. This laboratory testing method is suitable for power LEDs, IGBTs and stacked die solutions. Add-ons to T3Ster allowing high throughput laboratory testing are also available.
Full Support of the Transient Dual Interface Method (JEDEC JESD51-14 standard) and LED thermal testing (JEDEC JESD51-51, 51-52 standards)
T3Ster implements the latest JEDEC thermal test standards as well as JEDEC compliant thermal resistance measurements and dynamic characterization. It also fully supports the transient dual interface method (JEDEC JESD51-14 standard, published in 2010) and the latest LED thermal testing standards (JEDEC JESD51-51, 51-52, published in 2012).
Scalable Equipment, Hardware and Software Add-on Options
T3Ster has a wide range of add-on options that provide flexibility in daily thermal measurement and characterization work:
- Automated device calibration with dry thermostat and a couple of supported liquid-cooled thermostats
- Easy connection of any type of thermocouples through the appropriate preamplifiers
- Increased level of switched power with different booster options
- Addition of the TeraLED® unit for high-power LED measurement
- Addition of the DynTIM® unit for dynamic thermal interface material measurement
Understanding the ROI of Thermal Characterization
Heat dissipation of semiconductor packages has become one of the limiting factors in miniaturization. One of the biggest concerns of circuit designers is to reduce power that is continuously increasing due to increasing bandwidths. The increasing power results in increasing temperature in the chip that first just modifies, later destroys the operation of the circuit, if the heat is not appropriately led out of the device.
Reliability of components can decrease exponentially due to heat problems. Therefore, by using a thermal tester such as T3Ster semiconductor manufacturers can design chips and ICs of superior thermal performance and publish reliable thermal data for downstream applications while equipment manufacturers can design reliable products and avoid thermally induced failures throughout the product’s lifetime.
Let’s take a look at the production yield of a prominent semiconductor manufacturer for the automotive market. They can produce up to 1,000,000 semiconductor chips a day. If the sale price of a single chip is $5, a stoppage in production of 2 days due to a die attach problem would cost the company $10,000,000 in potential lost revenue. Therefore avoiding even a 2 hour stoppage can easily pay for the cost of the system.