€100m project looks at component and system reliability for Industry 4.0

€100m project looks at component and system reliability for Industry 4.0

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

The €103m Intelligent Reliability 4.0 (iRel40) project brings together 75 science and industry partners from 13 countries and is coordinated by Infineon Technologies.

The project is looking across the whole supply chain, optimizing the reliability of microelectronic systems from the wafer to the chip and the packaging and finally to the system and hence the actual application. The aim is to significantly reduce failure rates and thus improve product quality and lifetime.

This is a step beyond the lifecycle management approaches being adopted by design tools vendors such as Siemens EDA and Synopsys. These are using IP blocks in digital chips for monitoring of data and parameters such as temperature and feeding this back to digital twin simulations of devices, systems and applications.

Instead iRel40 is starting from first principles on the reliability of the wafer technologies and building o the latest research in materials and failure analysis, including modelling and simulation, as well as artificial intelligence. Research labs include imec in Belgium, TU Delft in The Netherlands and Fraunhofer IMS in Germany along with chip maker ams in Austria.

The three year project is divided into eight work packages that deal with aspects such as requirements, theoretical principles, materials, test methods, and pilot applications. Infineon will contribute its experience in chip and packaging technology.

“Enhancing electronics performance through miniaturization and integrating more and more functions is progressing steadily. Performance and complexity are increasing, as the costs per function go down,” said Dr. Reinhard Ploss, CEO of Infineon. “Powerful electronics form the basis for forward-looking technologies such as electro-mobility, autonomous driving, renewable energies and energy-efficient connected solutions. However, they will only be successful if users can depend on reliable functionality, quality and lifetime. Reliability is a key differentiating factor in international competition.”

The methods and processes for improving reliability will be tested out in 16 applications across energy, transport and industry, as well as a further eighteen factory pilots. One of the partners is Swedish truck maker Scania, where the reliability of the components themselves and how they are used in a system is key as more and more electronics is used in vehicles. This was highlighted by the recent recall of Tesla’s Model 3 electric cars as the result of potential failures of the NAND memory in the cetral display units.

“We have got off to a very good start on working on the project. We have already defined requirements and specifications for checking the results of our work,” said project manager Dr. Klaus Pressel from Infineon. “Our goal is to improve production processes in microelectronics with the aid of optical methods and sensors, in order to lower the failure rate in production, improve quality, and finally achieve maximum reliability for new products.”

The project is part of the ECSEL (Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership) programme, with funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and from the two states of Saxony and Thuringia.

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