Categories
Electronic Components

Counterfeit electronic component detection

How to benchmark your suppliers' counterfeit mitigation process

When you work in the electronic components industry, it is inevitable at some point you will come face-to-face with counterfeit electronic components. It is a veritable stone in the shoe of the electronic component industry, worth hundreds of billions of dollars. 

No matter where you are purchasing your parts from, having a good understanding of the steps and processes that your electronic components supplier follows for mitigating the risk of counterfeit parts is critical to protecting your supply chain and long-term reputation.  

With over 30 years of experience in the electronics industry, specialising in hard to find and obsolete components, at Cyclops Electronics we have a lot of knowledge when it comes to identifying and avoiding counterfeit electronic components. Our team of highly qualified inspectors have accumulated almost a century of experience between them, and we take pride in how vigilantly we deal with this supply chain havoc-wreaker. 

In this post we would like to share some of our know-how on how to detect counterfeit electronics and our testing and processes for electronic components counterfeit mitigation. It will arm you with the information you need to make informed, wise decisions about which brokers to work with and who works to the highest standards. 

What are counterfeit electronic components?

To make sure we are all on the same page, it is probably best that we define what a counterfeit electronic component is.  

A counterfeit, or ‘suspect’ electronic component is any component that is deliberately misrepresented in its production. Often counterfeit components are used to copy and profit off more high-quality, reliable electronic component manufacturers.  

There is a chance that the counterfeit components would work with the same function as their original counterpart. The issue arises when they do not have the longevity, or integrity, of the original. Buyers can end up spending a fortune on parts that will not work or will damage their circuitry, and there will be no one to hold to account. This is why it is so vital to have trusted brokers in your supply chain, so the risk to you is minimised.  

There are countries that are more infamous for the amount of counterfeit electronics produced there, but they can come from anywhere. Professionals at every stage of the supply chain have to be vigilant to mitigate the risk of counterfeit components to their customers.  

As long as there has been chip shortages, there has been a counterfeit industry, with new prolific methods accompanying each decade. In the 90s, among other things, it was counterfeit SRAM during the shortage. Then the 2000s began with counterfeit tantalum capacitors during the component’s allocation period.  

What do counterfeit electronic parts look like?

Most of the inspections undertaken within Cyclops Electronics facilities – or in vetted test houses we work with – are undertaken with highly specialised equipment.  

Here are some relatively common electronics counterfeit giveaways to look out for when you are inspecting electronic components: 

Evidence of packaging tampering

If you receive your components and the packaging looks damaged, this is the first sign to suspect they are counterfeit electronics. The packaging may look damaged beyond reasonable transportation wear and tear, or the tape may look tampered with.  

Key indicators of this include: 

  • Water damage 
  • Puncture marks 
  • Packaging does not match previous deliveries 

If this is the case, there is a chance that the electronic components have been tampered with or switched. It is worth notifying the vendor and the courier to make them aware of this issue, whether counterfeit is detected or not. 

A box with a DHL shipping label on it. The tape sealing the box reads 'repacked'
An industry example of goods that have been repackaged

Verify all included information

A white box with 'Vishay General Semiconductor written across it, however 'general' has been misspelled with an 'I' instead of an 'L'
An industry example of counterfeit packaging with spelling errors

All electronic components should come with packaging documentation and product datasheets are available online.  

Check the following information: 

  • Date code 
  • Part number 
  • Sealing date 
  • All other displayed information 
  • Packing date was after the date of manufacture.  
  • Spelling mistakes. Just like with spam emails, this is sometimes the easiest way to detect a counterfeit electronic component. 

The importance of the ‘golden sample’ 

In electronic component counterfeit detection, the ‘golden sample’ is an electronic component, reel or tray that has come directly from the manufacturer or from a franchised distributor. It is good practice to compare all, or at least any suspect incoming goods, to a golden sample. If there are discrepancies, it is a good indicator of potential counterfeit. 

Something unique and specialist that Cyclops can offer above its competitors is our cross-database checks. Thanks to our years of experience in the industry we have built a huge database of electronic component images. We can compare incoming goods to these industry standards where other providers don’t have the same resource.

Count and consistency

Usually when you buy electronic components they will be in trays, reels or cut tap. You may even get bags of components delivered to you. So, count them. There will often be partial factory quantity, so make sure you have the correct count ordered. 

More than just the outer packaging of the components, the quality of the inner packaging can be indicative too. If a reel is discoloured or warped, it can indicate damage or tampering, and the same applies to the orientation of parts on a tray or reel. Parts may have been removed and replaced if they are not all oriented in the same direction.  

Electronic counterfeit detection methods

A lot of the ways to detect counterfeit electronic components mentioned above are included under the banner of visual inspection. It is often the first line of defence when avoiding counterfeit electronic parts. There are more advanced, accurate tests that often need to be used to minimise the risk of counterfeit components 

Decapsulation and delidding

Decapsulation involves the corrosion of the top layer of a component to check the internal die wafer and wafer bonds. Cyclops uses an acid-free DPA System, instead of the traditional wet chemical process. This method is much cleaner than the wet chemical alternative, and means our staff are not at risk of inhaling any harmful chemicals. 

Decapping is commonly used for devices with plastic packaging. Once the package cavity is exposed the internal die wafer can be checked. It should match the golden sample in layout and structure. It is a form of destructive testing – once this test is performed, the part cannot be used.  

X-ray testing and XRF

X-ray testing shows defects through the electronic component without having to damage the die wafer inside. X-ray fluorescence (XRF) testing takes this a step further and can tell you the material composition of the component.  

In XRF an x-ray beam is directed at the component’s surface, then the atoms in the component produce a fluorescent x-ray beam that is processed by a detector. The differences between the energy of the original and x-ray beam correspond to different elements, which shows the elements used in manufacturing. Usually counterfeit components will have a slightly different material composition to parts directly from the manufacturer. 

Resurfacing, acetone and scrape testing

There are other effective forms of testing for avoiding counterfeit electronic components. 

Similar to decapping, remarking and resurfacing testing use solvents to corrode the top layers of a component. This, however, isn’t trying to get all the way to the wafer inside. It instead detects if the identification information on the component has been altered or remarked. It is not a destructive test since the wafer inside is left undamaged. 

The process counterfeiters often use is called ‘blacktopping’. The original chip markings are sanded off and a polymer coating is painted over to cover up the sanding markings 

Scrape testing is a similar, manual way of removing the top layers of a component. This shows if a component has had a clear coat applied to it, which is acetone-resistant and lowers the chances of counterfeit being revealed by remarking or decapsulation testing. 

The datasheet shows the discrepancies between the original and counterfeit component

The process counterfeiters often use is called ‘blacktopping’. The original chip markings are sanded off and a polymer coating is painted over to cover up the sanding markings 

Scrape testing is a similar, manual way of removing the top layers of a component. This shows if a component has had a clear coat applied to it, which is acetone-resistant and lowers the chances of counterfeit being revealed by remarking or decapsulation testing. 

Electrical testing/Curve trace testing

A relatively simple method is to test the component. Curve trace machines can test current, voltages, diode resistivity and silicon connectivity. This will detect any physical damage caused by heat, electrical overstress or electrostatic discharge damage.  

Choose Cyclops Electronics to avoid electronic counterfeit components

Nonfranchise distribution channels are a vital and legitimate part of any supply chain, particularly in the case of legacy products where parts may no longer be in production. The electronics industry has realised that, as counterfeiters become more and more proficient, there is not a ‘one size fits all’ measure that can be used to combat fraudulent parts entering the supply chain. 

At Cyclops Electronics, quality is at the core of everything we do. From our industry-leading component testing program to our commitment to continuous improvement, the quality of our components and service is our key tool to drive the highest customer satisfaction year after year. 

When it comes to counterfeit mitigation, component analysis is a crucial element to protect our customers’ supply chain.  

At Cyclops Electronics we continuously and thoroughly vet and monitor our supply chain. Since we also have a presence in China, we have the advantage of controlling our incoming goods from Asia in real time on a local level. A large proportion of counterfeit goods often come from China, but because of our presence there we can be much more vigilant than other brokers.  

The Cyclops counterfeit inspection process

Goods coming into the Cyclops warehouse go through a vigorous inspection process on arrival before they are even booked in. All components are photographed and undergo inspection based on the type of part, age, supply chain and specific customer requirements. Basic checks are performed, such as checking the quantity, part numbers and RoHS compliance. 

Our experienced inspectors have the training and technical expertise to ensure quality product reaches the end customer. Parts are then tracked through a barcode system, from supplier delivery note right though to customer despatch.  

Following this, if the parts are still factory sealed, we perform visual checks. If the components are not factory sealed, we are very diligent in our need for further testing. High resolution and secondary checks are undertaken, and testing continues depending on whether the part passes. 

We have very strict protocols in place for testing, and it always follows our process flow. For destructive tests like decapsulation, these are only undertaken in very specific circumstances and need to be requested by the customer. Thankfully, our combination of specialised testing facilities and our team of dedicated inspection staff mean these tests are not often required. 

At Cyclops Electronics we have several optical magnifiers that we use in-house. This includes, but is not limited to, Opticron Hand magnifiers, the vision engineering mantis and the Amscope microscope. We also perform acetone testing, black top testing, reel counters and decapsulation testing. 

Categories
Component Shortage

How are semiconductor companies dealing with current industry challenges

There are many challenges facing the chip industry, despite
the semiconductor supply chain no longer being in crisis.

Semiconductor industry challenges

Focusing on high-demand products

The semiconductor shortages are much more under control than they were between 2020 and 2022, but the effects can still be felt. There are various components that are in more demand, like surface mount devices (SMDs), multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs) and SMD resistors. There are also whole industries taking a big hit, like the automotive
industry
and consumer market.

Many companies have switched to manufacturing these higher-demand products to optimise production and profit during these shortages.

Capacity expansion

Some fabs are still dealing with manufacturing delays due
to closures and lockdowns. Although most of these facilities have reopened this year, but since lockdowns began several manufacturers have expanded their operations
in other countries.

There have also been several new initiatives to increase
domestic production and reshoring introduced recently. These include the US CHIPS Act, and the European
Chips Act
, both of which aim to bolster their countries’ places in the global semiconductor market. With these expansion plans manufacturers’ capacity and ability to cater for customers has also increased.

New technologies and Industry 4.0

Advancements in robotics, AI, and digitalisation have greatly
improved the efficiency of the industry. As semiconductors and microchips have gotten more powerful but smaller, it has given rise to a new generation of technology. This, if implemented in a fab setting, can increase output and
improve speed without the need for more facility space.

Optimisation of current facilities might be expensive, but will benefit companies with a more immediate effect than building new fabs, which would take years.

There are many other initiatives that companies that can adopt to optimise in the wake of the supply chain chaos, including expanding their customer base and collaboration with other companies.

We’ve got you covered

Throughout the semiconductor shortages Cyclops has been
ensuring that its customers get the electronic components they need with the shortest lead times possible. 

No matter what the circumstances, our impeccable customer support will never change. To see our expertise first-hand, contact us at sales@cyclops-electronics.com or call us today on +44 (0) 1904 415 415. 

Categories
Electronic Components Technology

Edible batteries

Researchers in Italy have made a rechargeable battery from edible materials like almonds and capers.

What’s the recipe?

The Milan-based researchers made the rechargeable prototype’s anode from riboflavin, a vitamin found in almonds. The cathode of the battery was made from quercetin, found in capers and is also sold as a food supplement.

The researchers, from the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, mixed activated charcoal into the electrode materials to increase electrical conductivity.

Nori seaweed was used for the separator, while a mixture of sodium hydrogen sulphate and water made up the electrolyte. Two food-grade gold foil contacts were on a cellulose-derived support, and the device was covered in beeswax.

Cooking time

Previously, research has shown the feasibility of edible circuits and sensors, but there is more research needed into power sources.

The battery operated at 0.65V, and sustained a current of 48µA for 12 minutes.

When further developed, the device could be used for medical diagnostics and treatments, and food quality monitoring. Regular batteries like Li-ion types cannot be used in edible devices because of the toxic chemicals contained in them.

Au naturale

The research team states in their report that they drew inspiration from living organisms for their battery.

In a previous study, a different team of researchers made a non-rechargeable battery from melanin and manganese oxide. While the battery operated, manganese oxide decreased and the melanin oxidised. Unfortunately manganese oxide can only be consumed in very small amounts, so the battery’s charge is pretty limited.

Aside from the melanin battery’s charge having limitations, the fact that it is not rechargeable also mitigates its effectiveness.

As edible electronics is still a relatively new field, it’s not surprising that many designs are still in their infancy. But, with the potential uses in the medical and food safety fields, one day they could be life-saving.

Food for thought

Although Cyclops Electronics doesn’t have a huge stock of edible components, we do have a massive inventory of other hard-to-find and everyday electronic components. We can stock or source almost anything you want, staying ahead of other distributors out there. Contact Cyclops Electronics today at sales@cyclops-electronics.com, or call us on +44 (0) 1904 415 415.

 

Disclaimer: this blog is purely for informational purposes, please do not eat batteries!

Categories
Electronic Components

Managing component obsolescence

Electronic component obsolescence can have a ripple effect in the industry. If a component reaches the end of its lifecycle it can impact any products made with the component, affecting the end user.

Obsolescence happening faster

Components now are becoming obsolete much faster than 50 years ago. In the 70s the complete lifecycle of an electronic component was around 30 years. By the 2010s this was closer to 10 years, a huge decrease.

While this might not be a problem for consumers, it does have a considerable impact on manufacturers. If machinery is specialised to a certain type of component, the cost to adjust or replace these machines can be high.

Especially in very specialised fields like aerospace, defence and medical, faster component obsolescence has a serious effect. The process of redesigning these circuits and testing can be hugely time-consuming.

Advancements in technology play a part in these accelerated lifecycles, but there is still a big need for legacy parts.

End-of-life

Component manufacturers usually let their customer base know if a part is becoming obsolete with a Last Time Buy notice or a Product Change Notification (PCN). These can be issued up to about a year in advance to give companies time to make alternative arrangements.

Some companies will decide to stockpile these components once they receive the notification. The alternative is reworking any products featuring the components or finding alternative components.

Of course, any of these options will be costly. A number of companies will be trying to stock the same components so the price will increase. This will increase further once the components become scarce.

Can it be managed?

·         Monitor end-of-life notifications: Even if a PCN does not directly affect you, it may affect other manufacturers in your supply chain. Keeping track of these and being aware of what others in your supply chain use might make all the difference.

·         Consider buying strategies: Depending on how and when you buy components, you may end up with shortages or obsolete excess components. If manufacturers put a supply and buying strategy in place, they can not only minimise the obsolescence impact, but can save time and warehouse space.

·         Component lifecycle management: Staying on top of the component lifecycles can be endlessly useful. If manufacturers can keep track of their components lifecycle changes, they can forecast and prepare for the potential phasing out of the part.

Excellent management

Cyclops Electronics provides a range of services for its customers, including scheduled ordering. If you lack warehouse space but want to buy a surplus of components, whether they’re facing obsolescence or you want to secure a price, Cyclops Electronics can hold these for you and deliver as and when you need them. To learn more or hear about our other services, contact us today on +44 (0) 1904 415 415, or email us at sales@cyclops-electronics.com.

Categories
Supply Chain

Korea Japan trade relations

Chipmaker material suppliers in Korea have been earning
more from domestic semiconductor companies who have been looking for local suppliers.

Domestic supply

Since export restrictions were put in place by their
neighbours, Korean chipmakers like Samsung Electronics have been using local suppliers. This has led to suppliers in Korea more than doubling their earnings in the last four years.

Japan’s restrictions affected areas including photoresist
chemicals and hydrogen fluoride used in chip manufacture. Fluorinated polyamide for organic light-emitting displays was also affected.

The restrictions were first changed back in mid-2019, and
since then 16 Korean materials companies saw combined sales grow by approximately $15 billion between 2018 and 2022.

The affect

Korea Semiconductor Industry Association VP and COO, Ahn Ki-hyun, said Korean companies weren’t damaged by the restrictions. He said, however, the restrictions may have impacted Japanese companies attempting to export to South Korea.

One of the toughest materials to re-source was hydrogen
fluoride gas, used for etching in display production. Much of this has been replaced since 2018 to lower-purity gas produced in Korea.

Despite some of the restrictions now being lifted, the
domestic suppliers that have been adopted may stay for good.

Recent relations

Just last month the two countries came together and agreed
to lift many of the restrictions. Korea has continued to promote using domestic suppliers even if restrictions are eased.

In general the chip industry has not changed much, other
supplies and exports between the countries have stayed the same. In light of the changes it will be interesting to see how the Asian chip market now develops.

The US Chips Act will also affect these new business
relationships. Market shares might change, and only time will tell how the industry will shift as a whole.

Global presence

 

Cyclops Electronics supplies to countries and partners all
over the world. We pride ourselves on our accessibility and level of customer service. If you’re struggling to find electronic components or reliable distributors, contact Cyclops today and see first-hand how a good business
partnership can benefit you. Email us at sales@cyclops-electronics.com, or call us on +44 (0) 1904 415 415. 

Categories
Electronic Components

The Life of Gordon Moore

Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel and creator of Moore’s
Law, has passed away at the age of 94.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation announced on March 24
that Moore had passed away at his home in Hawaii.

Humble beginnings

As a child, Moore was more interested in chemistry
than electronics. After completing his bachelor’s, Moore achieved a doctorate
in physical chemistry in at the California Institute of Technology in 1954.

After working at the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns
Hopkins University in Maryland, Moore wanted more. He was given the opportunity
in 1956 to work at the recently formed Shockley Semiconductor. This company is
thought to be responsible for creating California’s Silicon Valley.

Less than a year later, Moore and a group of scientists and
engineers formed their own company, Fairchild Semiconductor. He rose through
the company to become the director of research and development. During his time
there, Fairchild developed the planar process, the base process needed to
produce an IC. Moore also greatly contributed to the development of the MOSFET
during his time at Fairchild.

Moore’s Law

One of the things Moore is renowned for is the initial
prediction of Moore’s Law. Moore
predicted all the way back in 1965 that the number of transistors fitting on a
given area would double each year. 10 years later he adjusted his hypothesis to
every two years. This prediction still rings mostly true today.

Just a few years after the initial prediction, Moore and
long-time colleague Robert Noyce decided to found a new business. Thus, Intel
Corporation was created. After initially being the executive vice president,
Moore eventually became CEO and chairman of the board.

After Intel

Moore became stepped down as CEO in 1987, and worked as the
chairman and chairman emeritus before stepping down completely in 2006. Following
his retirement and beforehand in the early 2000s, Moore established a
charitable foundation with his wife Betty. Since its founding, The Gordon and
Betty Moore Foundation has donated more than $5.1 billion to charitable causes. 

Categories
Supply Chain

What is computational lithography?

Computational lithography is a process that could speed up the chip design time.

There are many things that need to be considered when designing or manufacturing a semiconductor. In the early stages the chip’s design will have to be developed – a process that could take considerable time.

As chips get smaller and more powerful, the complexity increases. This means more advanced manufacturing methods have to be considered, sooner rather than later.

Photo lithography

The photo lithography process is when the semiconductor design is etched onto the wafer. It uses a series of light and radiation exposures to etch the semiconductor design onto the substrate wafer. During this process the wafer can be deformed because of the physical and chemical effects.

There’s more and more need for high accuracy in the etching process. There also ideally should be a way to predict or negate any errors caused in the etching. The errors can come from diffraction, the resist used, and a number of other things.

Computational lithography

Computational lithography is a method of simulating chip lithography. It uses algorithms representing the manufacturing process, gathered from test wafers and machines. By running chip designs through a computer the resolution of the pattern can be increased.

This is becoming more essential as chip designs become smaller and higher resolution designs are needed.

The models used in in the simulations plan ahead for the potential physical and chemical effects of the photolithography, deforming them purposely to demonstrate the final effect.

Further developments

A big name in the industry has recently released a software library which will further speed up the design process. This could apparently enable the creation of new lithography solutions and faster turnaround times.

Computational lithography has only been around since the mid-2000s. Following the term’s first use it quickly got adopted industry wide.

A clear picture

 

Cyclops stock a range of different components with a variety of node sizes. Whatever electronic component you’re looking for, Cyclops can help. With our global contacts and huge stocklist, we can ensure competitive lead times and prices. Call us today on +44 (0) 1904 415 415, or email us at sales@cyclops-electronics.com

Categories
Electronic Components Supply Chain

Top car brands affected by semiconductor shortages

The semiconductor shortages have had a significant impact across a lot of industries. One hit the hardest has been the new vehicle market. Here are a few of the companies that have been the worst-affected:

Jaguar Land Rover

Certain models have been almost discontinued by the brand, which apparently is to catch up with demand for other models. Waiting lists for popular Range Rovers are over a year long, with sales suspended in some markets. There will be some production decreased so more resources can be used for popular models.

Toyota

The company was forced to cut its annual output target since production was lower than expected in the second half of the year. Currently demand is still higher than supply, so factories have been forced to shut on certain days. Supplies of Corolla, RAV4, and Yaris are supposedly the most affected.

Ford

Similarly to Toyota, Ford was forced to cut production at several factories, and things haven’t improved much since. Ford’s CFO said he didn’t think any relief was coming. Ford’s CEO said both semiconductors and EV battery materials were in high demand, and would be for the next decade.

Volvo

In late 2022 Volvo announced the temporary closure of one of its factories. The company’s biggest shareholder has also been affected by shortages, with its profits allegedly falling by 55% in the first half of 2022.

Honda

Honda’s profits were mostly due to the weakening value of the yen, making its results seem more positive. These skewed results were mostly due to the chip shortage, with 3.8 million vehicles predicted to be cancelled in 2022. This is, however, a huge improvement on the 11.3 million cancelled in 2021.

The executive vice president of Honda said he doesn’t believe the worst of the shortages has passed. The American production of CR-V and Civic models were severely affected.

Stellantis

The amalgamation of Jeep, Dodge, Alfa Romeo and Fiat has been dealing with shortages since its inception. The company is currently overhauling the entire line-up to work towards a majority of low-emission vehicles.

Thanks to this, Stellantis is in need of more semiconductors than ever. However, apparently profits rose in Q3 2022, with sales of battery electric vehicles rising by 40%. If this continues, things may slowly begin to improve for the company.

Volkswagen

The company have said they have around 150,000 unfinished cars in need of semiconductors. Because of ‘geopolitical developments’, namely tensions between China and the US, it believes shortages will continue for a year minimum.

Nissan

Nissan went from predicting the sale of 4 million units to 3.7 million in 2022. This, they said, was down to China lockdowns and general semiconductor shortages. Production issues have been relatively localised, with China production falling by 23.5%. This balanced the gain in output at Nissan’s other factories.

Nissan has been trying to use alternative chips and dual sourcing to bypass some of the current shortages. If this is successful, there may be a positive outlook for the company again shortly.

Mazda

Mazda was reportedly struggling so much in November 2022 that they couldn’t even predict output for the following two weeks.

Things have not gotten much better, with predictions that supply will be limited until the end of 2023. It also predicted the lowest-priced car trims will see the strongest growth thanks to the looming recession. However, Mazda expects a rise in profits this year thanks to the struggling value of the yen.

GM

The American company has allegedly 95,000 unfinished vehicles waiting for semiconductors. This is harming its storage and sales, and will continue since the unfinished vehicles are those in high demand.

Despite not meeting demand, GM is still predicting strong sales and fewer supply disruptions in 2023.

Overall

Many companies expect the shortages and supply chain issues to continue throughout 2023. Some are hopeful, however, that as supply eases, so too will the financial pressures they currently face.

A reliable source

In the past Cyclops Electronics has helped several car companies source electronic components they couldn’t find elsewhere. We have a huge stocklist and a professional sales team that can find what you need at the best price. Contact us today at sales@cyclops-electronics.com, or call us on +44 (0) 1904 415 415.

Disclaimer

The information in this article has come from various sources, including Slash Gear’s article, Car Companies That Were Impacted Most By The Semiconductor Shortage.

Categories
Electronic Components Future

The future of semiconductor manufacturing, is it digital twins?

What is a digital twin?

The concept of digital twins has been around since the early 90s. Since then, it has been further developed and become a time and money saver for many manufacturers.

The purpose of a digital twin is to mimic a physical system exactly. It gives those using it the ability to simulate what they want to do, and the twin predicts the outcome.

These twins are not to be confused with a simple simulation or a digital thread. A simulation can only replicate the outcome of one process, while digital twins can run multiple simulations for different processes. A digital thread, although similar, is more a record of everything occurring in a product or system over time.

There are several varieties of digital twins, all with different use cases. The purposes range from basic, with component twins, to more complex process twins which can represent an entire production facility.

The timeline

Semiconductors can take around 3 months to manufacture from a silicon wafer to multilayer semiconductors. Not only that, but semiconductor fabs themselves take years, and millions in funding, to build. Because of this, it is hugely time-consuming to open any new facilities and start production there.

The issue that arises, then, is there would be time between demand increasing and when it can be met. Alongside this, any new facility will need trained staff and assurances any new equipment is working.

Digital twins give manufacturers the ability to test the workings of a facility before production begins. This may not seem like a big deal but it means that any mistakes or issues can be detected much earlier, and won’t affect the real production.

Even in a working fab, a digital twin can conceptualise new processes, without interrupting production. Finding working systems before changing the physical process can save time and money too.

And if you need skilled employees? No problem. By combining digital twins with training software or VR, you can train new staff before they touch the real equipment. Employees can then be qualified to work in a facility with no prior experience and no disruptions to production.

Sustainability

An alternative concept is using digital twins to become more environmentally friendly. Users can test ways to cut emissions and energy use to reach sustainable goals. Any problems or errors can be discovered before implementing them in real time. One study found that 57% of organisations agree digital twins are pivotal to improving sustainability.

Something to be mindful of is that it needs to be up-to-date to mirror the conditions of the physical version. This is especially important with system twins and process twins, where several interlocking systems work together.

Advantages

With the huge amounts of data that can be collected through a digital twin, products can be developed much further. Since digital twins offer so much insight into potential outcomes, it can boost a company’s research and development much faster.

Once a product has been developed, a digital twin can monitor the manufacturing process, overall increasing efficiency. Once a product reaches the end of its life a twin can help decide the best outcome for it too.

A safe prediction

Digital twins can simulate processes and products to help manufacturers make assured choices. For those looking for electronic components, Cyclops Electronics is the best choice. We have an extensive stocklist of day-to-day, obsolete and hard-to-find components, and a dedicated sales team to source every component you need. Contact Cyclops at sales@cyclops-electronics.com or call us on +44 (0) 1904 415 415.

 

Image Source: SumitAwinash

Categories
Electronic Components Uncategorized

Improvements to smart materials in the works

A team of scientists and engineers has developed a new way of producing thin film perovskite semiconductors.

This ‘smart material’ can adapt depending on stimuli like light, magnetic fields or electric fields.

This could lead to the material being combined with other nano-scale materials to produce sensors, smart textiles and flexible electronics.

Thin films are usually made via epitaxy: atoms are placed on a substrate one layer at a time.

However, with this method the films stay attached to the host substrate and are less easily utilised. If it can be separated from the substrate it is much more useful.

The team, based at the University of Minnesota, has found a way to create a strontium titanate membrane without several of the usual freestanding membrane issues.

Making freestanding ‘smart’ oxide material membranes comes with certain challenges. Unlike 2D substances like graphene, smart oxide materials are bonded in 3 dimensions.

The method

One way to make them is using remote epitaxy. Graphene is used as an intermediary between the substrate and the membrane. This allows the thin film material to be peeled off the substrate. One issue with this is when using the technique with metal oxides the graphene becomes oxidised and ruins the sample.

A new technique pioneered by the University of Minnesota is hybrid molecular beam epitaxy. This stops the oxidation process by using titanium that is already bonded to oxygen. The team has also been able to introduce automatic stoichiometric control, which no one else has been able to do.

The hope is in future to combine these thin film membranes to create more advanced smart materials. There are certain products already using thin films like gallium-oxide. Other alternatives to thin film include carbon nanotubes, which can be used in layers of only 0.06nm thickness.

A ‘smart’ choice

Cyclops Electronics can provide a huge range of specialist, day-to-day, and hard to find electronic components. We work with our customers to make sure we find what they need and deliver in the quickest time possible.

Contact Cyclops for all your electronic component needs. Call us on +44 (0) 1904 415 415, or email us at sales@cyclops-electronics.com.