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Graphic element Research > Growth > Research projects > Measurements & testing projects > SMEs take the lead in high temperature micromaterial testing
Graphic element SMEs take the lead in high temperature micromaterial testing

The GROWTH - HiT project funded under the CRAFT scheme is developing an electron-optical device for the automatic operation of high temperature micromaterial tests on electronic components. The technique will permit image-based measurement of surface deformation and numerical finite elements modelling.

A wide variety of nanoscaled materials are currently used in advanced microtechnology, medicine and microbiology. Product functionality depends on their reliability, and there is a growing demand for materials with an operational temperature range of up to 300°C. This in turn gives rise to a need for easy-to-use measuring and testing technology for determining quantitatively the reliability parameters of nanoscaled objects.

The thermo-mechanical reliability of micromaterials can be predicted through mathematical modelling of material behaviour and computer simulation. Further development of nano-technologies therefore requires suitable numerical modelling methods, accurate techniques for measuring the material parameters on which the modelling is based, and corresponding techniques for model verification.

Currently available equipment can only be used for measuring single nanoscaled parameters and describing electronic characteristics. At present, few research laboratories have ways of determining nanoscale thermo-mechanical material parameters, and these are purpose-made, manually controlled prototypes. HiT will therefore develop a testing technique that uses a high-temperature electron-optical microscope for verifying finite element models of correlation-based specimens or images.

A pool of specialised expertise

Four SMEs and four RTD performers make up the HiT project partnership. The sheer variety of specialised knowledge required in different fields, from image processing to finite element methodology, requires a multi-national collaboration.

Project leader Rolf Kühnert, CEO and R&D manager of Image Instruments GmbH in Chemnitz, Germany, says that the combination and complementarity of the partners' skills is ideal for achieving the project's goals. His own firm is specialised in digital image correlation and deformation analysis. The Czech partner Tescan is one of the world's most experienced scanning electron microscope (SEM) manufacturers. Swetest in Stockholm is a market leader in the testing equipment sector and EOS from Dortmund provides SEM related services. The RTD performers include the GeorgiaTech Packaging Research Center in the United States, one of the most experienced research facilities worldwide, working for all of the 50 largest American electronics companies. Mr Kühnert believes that its contribution to the project is enormous, both in terms of scientific results and technology implementation.

How the 'HiT test' will work

The new nanoscale material testing device will comprise four main aspects: a digital scanning electron microprobe for recording surface micrographs in non-regular surface regions of interest (ROI); an in-situ radiation heating stage with tensile option for defined specimen positioning and deformation; a PC interface board for automatic test control; and a software package to control and evaluate the test procedure.

The HiTest, as the device will be known, will include unique testing abilities for high temperature components in electronic packaging. The key innovation is in the optimisation of numerical modelling and reliability parameter computation of micro and nano materials in high temperature applications. The device will also be helpful in the definition of specific standards for nanoscaled materials.

Improving the reliability of a wide range of products

High quality, reliable nanoscale materials play an important role in the performance and safety of all kinds of high-temperature electronic (HTE) devices, from simple consumer goods to sophisticated medical, energy, transport or manufacturing systems. Improving product reliability through increased failure prevention in the design phase can have a positive influence on safety by reducing malfunctions of all kinds of control equipment. It is estimated that there is a 15-20% scope for improvement.

The largest potential application is a 200-250°C technology for engine control systems in the automotive and aerospace sectors. These energy-intensive industries are coming under increasing environmental and economic pressures to improve efficiency and reduce costs. In the microelectronics sector, there is significant potential for use of the technology in the development of products such as advanced semiconductors, die attached materials, packaging techniques and printed circuit boards.

A European stake in the world HTE market

Time to market is estimated at nine months after the completion of the project. HiT will also help the SME participants to become leading suppliers of the equipment and associated services. They already have good contacts with a range of potential customers, such as Siemens and Philips. A marketing strategy for Asia will need to be developed, and GeorgiaTech will provide a vital inroad to the US.

Bearing in mind recent international HTE sector studies, the partners have made a realistic forecast of a 5-20% potential market share within five years. They may even form a joint marketing organisation to increase their impact.

Comprehensive details on the results of the first year's work are provided in Status Report R1, which can be downloaded at .



A pool of specialised expertise
How the 'HiT test' will work
Improving the reliability of a wide range of products
A European stake in the world HTE market

Key data

Research aimed at improving the reliability of high temperature micromaterial tests on electronic components is supported under the Growth Programme's generic activity in 'Measurements and testing'.


HiT - High-Temperature Micromaterial Testing Technology (G6ST-2001-50099)


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