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RELIABILITY European research initiative aims to improve electronics reliability

Author / Editor: Luke James / Nicole Kareta

German semiconductor manufacturer Infineon has announced a new collaborative project aimed at improving the reliability of electronics—Intelligent Reliability 4.0, or ‘iRel40’. 75 science and industry partners from across 13 countries will work together to realize the goal of improving the reliability of electronic devices, systems, and components.

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The project has far-reaching implications across the board, from basic consumer electronics devices to complex power electronics systems.
The project has far-reaching implications across the board, from basic consumer electronics devices to complex power electronics systems.
(Source: gemeinfrei / Pixabay )

Reliability is extremely important in electronic design, and as electronic design becomes more complex and high-tech while simultaneously getting smaller, reliability is going to become a much bigger challenge for design engineers. Now, however, a group of science and engineering partners are coming together to improve component reliability and reduce failure rates across the value chain under the so-called Intelligent Reliability 4.0 (‘iRel40’) initiative.

Under the Europe-wide collaborative research initiative, 75 science and industry partners from across 13 countries will work together to realize the goal of improving the reliability of electronic devices, systems, and components, something which would have far-reaching implications across the board, from basic consumer electronics devices to complex power electronics systems.

A Europe-wide partnership

According to Infineon, the iRel40 consortium is made up of “a balanced mix of industry and research with complementary skills and expertise.” In addition to Infineon, other prominent names include ONSemiconductor, Belgium’s BVBA, and the Fraunhofer Institute.

Preliminary estimates suggest that the iRel40 project could lead to 25,000 highly qualified new jobs in Europe via strong partnerships and investments in innovation. iRel40 is mainly being funded by the European Union via the ECSEL (Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership) program. Financial contributions are also being made by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Germany.

Earmarked to run for three years until April 2023, the project will take shape under the guiding hand of Infineon, which will contribute to it through its expertise in semiconductor chips and packaging technologies. Leveraging its decades of experience in the semiconductor field, Infineon will apply its know-how to support the iRel40 project in the design and development of smaller and more efficient electronics.

“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,” explained Dr. Reinhard Ploss, CEO of Infineon Technologies AG.

Ploss says that smaller and more powerful electronics are the key to future technologies like electro-mobility, autonomous vehicles, and renewable energy. These technologies will only be successful “if users can depend on reliable functionality, quality, and lifetime,” he added. Reliability is a key differentiating factor in international competition.

A holistic approach

Those behind iRel40 will adopt a holistic approach to improve the reliability of electronic components by “significantly reducing failure rates and improving both product quality and lifetime.” The consortium will look to the latest insights and methods in material research and failure analysis, and will leverage various technologies such as AI, modeling, and simulation to do this. The project will be structured in eight areas focusing on specific elements of the project, such as materials, test methods, and theoretical principles. The first phase of the project, which looked at defining requirements and specifications, has already concluded.

“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,” explained project manager Dr. Klaus Pressel from Infineon. Looking forward, the consortium will now look to verify these developed methods and processes in 16 real use cases in applications covering energy, transport, and industry. The consortium will also carry out a further 18 factory pilots. “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,” Pressel concluded.

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