Mini-Circuits is committed to building products which meet or exceed customers’ expectations. As we are ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 14001:2004 certified, we produce products using the highest quality and reliability standards.
This article will highlight key differences in the approach between Mini-Circuits’ and typical market products. To be the world leader in RF and microwave products, we always insist on consistent performance, world-class quality and outstanding reliability in our products. As one of the few suppliers who own and manage their design and manufacturing facilities, Mini-Circuits is able to provide the most consistent, highest quality products to our customers.
Transient Current Protection Circuit
The extra-reliable amplifiers (ERA) series amplifiers are based on InGaP HBT (heterojunctionbipolar-transistor) technology and achieve wideband high gain performance via a Darlington configuration. HBT technology provides many benefits that are not available in commonly used MESFET devices, namely single supply voltage operation and unconditional stability through the entire amplifier frequency range.
However, current transients that occur during power-up can cause damage in any high gain amplifier that uses a Darlington configuration. To address this issue, we design amplifiers with transient current protection circuits, which prevent damaging of the circuits by unforeseen electrical spikes, while still providing state-of-the-art performance.
- Heat sources are separated to minimize heat coupling.
- Metal structures provide better heat sinks.
- Double bonds on ground provides better grounding and heat dissipation.
Die Material Selection
Materials used for assembly have been carefully chosen to meet moisture sensitivity standards and improve thermal conductivity performance. Mini-Circuits’ stringent material selection improves GaAs thermal conductivity to prevent performance degradation and catastrophic failures.
- Mold compound – 2 times more thermal conductivity compared to the typical market product.
- Silver epoxy – 18 times more thermal conductivity compared to the typical market product.
- Leadframe – 18 times more thermal conductivity compared to the typical market product.
Electronic Wafer Mapping
Every die on our wafers is individually tested and electronically mapped according to key performance parameters, enabling us to select specific die for specific production requirements. This results in products with very consistent and tightly distributed performance.
Wafer maps provide the location of specific die with specific performance features, allowing us to select the die we need and meet packaged device requirements. This enables us to deliver production lots with customer-specific or tight performance distributions.
Our process monitors give us continuous feedback on the performance of our assembly systems to make sure they are operating as designed, in order to produce high quality products. Critical machine performance parameters are monitored using control charts, which are reviewed frequently to keep our processes in control.
In-process inspections give us real-time process feedback to fine tune processes or make immediate corrections. This is to ensure that products meet our quality standards before they are allowed to be processed further.
We use mold compounds, lead frame materials, and package designs with excellent heat dissipation properties that improve product performance and long-term reliability. This also meets regulatory requirements. All Mini-Circuits semiconductor products are offered in RoHS compliant models.
Environmental testing such as temp cycling, helps us monitor our products’ reliability. HTOL, HAST, and other operating life tests give us the information needed to improve our production processes and future product designs. Performance monitors such as junction temperature measurements assure us that the product continues to meet data sheet requirements as originally designed. Tin whisker growth, solderablility, and other tests, help us monitor the integrity of our products.
In-Process Controls Details
Our extensive in-process controls provide early detection of process variation and potential quality issues, providing crucial information for real-time process corrections.
Dynamic Test Specifications
In pursuit of our goal to exceed our customers’ expectations, we test our products to statistically generated 4.5 sigma limits instead of the specification limits. As a result, the products that are shipped to our customers are very consistent in performance with tight distributions.
The diagram illustrates 4.5 sigma limits used instead of specification limits. Only products from the shaded area for lot 3 will be tested good and shipped to customers.
New Product Introduction/Qualification
Extensive qualification processes for new products. Every new product goes through stringent JEDEC and MIL-STD stress and accelerated-life tests. Every product is subjected to destructive stress tests to add to our understanding of each product’s capabilities and operating limitations.
In addition to product qualifications, Mini-Circuits commits to regular monitors of our products to ensure that our high standards in quality and reliability are maintained and achieved over the products’ lifetime.
Our “Reliability Database” captures and tracks the reliability performance of our manufacturing lots over time. This database provides a complete record of each product’s reliability history.
Example: Moisture Sensitivity Level 1 (MSL 1) rating in accordance with IPC/ JEDECSTD-020C.
The following shows C-mode scanning acoustic microscope (C-SAM) photos of a device before and after moisture sensitivity level 1 (MSL 1) tests.
The table below shows delamination determination after MSL 1 pre-conditioning tests. Monitoring results have shown no delamination detected over the past three years.
Additional Tests and Evaluations Conducted by Mini-Circuits
Measurement and Monitoring Program
Temperature has a direct impact on the operating performance and reliability of semiconductor devices. Devices that operate at high junction temperatures for a long period of time can sustain permanent damage and shorten lifetimes.
At Mini-Circuits, MMIC amplifier junction temperature measurement and monitoring is performed on every production wafer lot to ensure our customers receive products with the highest quality, reliability and performance.
Reliability monitoring is used to evaluate product reliability performance throughout a product’s lifetime. Comprehensive qualifications are performed for process and material changes during the product’s lifetime. A reliability database tracks the reliability performance over time and archives all qualification data. This database provides a complete record of each product’s reliability history.
Our world-class physical analysis lab provides unparalleled analysis capabilities. We have the ability to analyze product performance characteristics from packaged devices through individual layers in a die. This ability gives us a powerful tool to help us correlate device construction and physical characteristics with device performance.
Non-Destructive Analysis Techniques
Destructive Analysis Techniques
Excellence in Performance Delivery System
Our high-volume delivery of high-value products is based on the foundation of innovative product designs, comprehensive in-process controls, rigorous product qualifications and reliability testing, and the most complete physical analysis capabilities in our industry. These work in concert to provide our customers the best RF and Microwave components available on the market, giving them a true competitive advantage.
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