Hacked Gadgets Forum

January 28, 2007

A look inside various integrated circuits

at 1:20 pm. Filed under DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks

If you have a burnt out IC (integrated circuit) why not crack the thing open to what makes it tick before tossing it in the trash. Nick Chernyy from uBlog has provided some details on how to do it. Just so happens that I cracked open a power regulator myself not too long ago…

“Integrated circuits are very hard to design properly, so many people put substantial effort into doing layout, mask and process engineering. With this in mind, one rationale for uncapping chips is to look at the artwork that is otherwise concealed inside the package. For students who are interested in IC design, looking at dies can provide some insight into already proven designs. There is also some excitement in finding various easter eggs that the designers put in the masks. Finally, for simple enough chips, it is sometimes fun to see how the device works from a gate/transistor level.”

Thanks Nick.


 

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7 Responses to “A look inside various integrated circuits”

  1. Bill Says:

    CAUTION: many power devices, typically RF power transistors, contain Beryllium oxide to improve thermal conductivity
    Beryllium oxide Is EXTREAMLY toxic – lethal in small quantities!

    DO NOT OPEN RF transistors

  2. Alan Parekh Says:

    Thanks for the warning Bill.

    “Safety

    BeO is carcinogenic if the powder is ingested or inhaled and may cause chronic beryllium disease.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beryllia

  3. Mr. Meval Says:

    That reminds me to cut open some old military VLSI chips. Wildly expensive then and now but very cool.

  4. Nick Chernyy Says:

    I am going to try to post a high resolution of an IC a week (hopefully on Fridays). If anyone has interesting chips that they want to see up there that they don’t mind losing, they can contact me and I can give them my postal address. Older chips are much easier to work with.

  5. Peter Says:

    Some interresting images that can be found:

    http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/creatures/index.html

  6. ben Says:

    if you actualy want to get the silicon chip off of and completly free of the case, you can heat the backing with a blow-torch until whatever holds the chip on there melts, and then slip an exacto knife under it and lift it out. this only works with chips that have metal or ceramic casings though.

  7. Alan Parekh Says:

    Hey Ben,

    That is a cool technique that I had never heard of before. I will have to give it a try one day.

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