Sunday, June 24, 2018
Publication Date: 05/1/2012
Archive >  May 2012 Issue >  Special Features: Components and Distribution > 

Testing to Detect Counterfeit Components
VLSI tester datalogging the DC/AC functional and parametric of the component at proposed temperature.

In recent years counterfeit parts have become an increasing problem in every industry that uses electronic components. Compounding these problems, it is increasingly difficult to know the true source of the purchased components. Because of both the quality and sophistication of many of today's counterfeit parts, they can often pass such inspection protocols as external and internal visual, dimensional check, marking permanency and even electrical testing. Because such components can be easily cloned or altered, more sophisticated testing to detect counterfeit components is necessary.

NJ Micro Electronic Testing Inc. created the "Mission Imposter®" Counterfeit Component Test Program, the first program that detects counterfeit electronic components in customers' products. The Mission Imposter process begins with analyzing the shipping and packaging. It continues with the parts undergoing several levels of inspection including marking and dimensional checks, internal visual analysis, several levels of material analysis and electrical testing to determine authenticity.

At the recent DMSMS conference in Hollywood, Florida (Diminishing manufacturing sources and material shortages), NJMET both exhibited and presented. As exhibitors, we were proud to present our Mission Imposter Counterfeit Component Test Program as well, while we also presented a lecture on the proper electronic testing protocols that should be used in testing components for their full functional and parametric performance.

The lecture was entitled "Proper Electrical Testing to Detect Counterfeit Components." Its aim was to educate members of the electronics industry about the risks associated with performing only basic contact testing with simple counterfeit detectors as opposed to the preferred functional and parametric exercises required to properly test these suspect electronic components.

Verifying ICs
In recent years component testing instruments have become available to the electronics industry to help verify electronic integrated circuits by analyzing their internal electrical characteristics and comparing them with a known genuine sample. This methodology of testing can be helpful only when you have a known good unit to compare the internal characteristics against. However, in the event of analyzing a well cloned or altered unit, without a known good unit to compare against, this methodology of testing does not address the functional and parametric requirements of the manufacturers' specification and it is therefore less reliable. There is now a major concern as to how this type of comparative testing is represented in the electronics industry. It does not analyze the vital DC and AC characteristics and in no way looks at the functional performance of the suspect component.

Electrical Test over Temperature
We can start by making our objective the electrical testing over temperature, since this is the preferred industry standard for the medical, automotive, industrial, military and aerospace fields. The test objective is to determine the quality of each product at the recommended manufacturer's or industry's extreme operating temperatures to uncover any signs of counterfeiting. DC, AC functional and parametric testing and other testing as necessary are performed on the electronic components.
Automatic semiconductor tester datalogging the various voltage and current parameters of a MOSFET at proposed temperature.

The first example of electrical testing over temperature was for a digital microcircuit. It is very important to exercise the VOH, VOL, IIH, IIL, IOH, IOL, IOS, ICEX, ICCL, ICCH, BV, IINH, IINL, VIH, VIL, VIK and AC Dynamic Tests to properly test these devices.

The intricacies of these tests can easily give a test engineer robust data to uncover a counterfeit component. These tests are extremely important, because of the limitations of the new test instruments on the market which simply curve trace each pin against a known good unit by exercising only pin to ground and pin to supply voltages. Alternately all pins can be grounded and each pin measured against the other grounded pins.

The second example of electrical testing over temperature is for a semiconductor. In the arena of transistors, it is important to exercise these test parameters: ICBO, IEBO, ICE (O, S, R, X, V), BVCBO, BVEBO, BVZ, HFEIB, HFE, VCESAT, VBESAT, VBEON, and to properly test these devices.

In the diode arena, it is important to exercise the VF, BVR, IB, BVZ, ZZ, and ZZL parameters to properly test these devices.

Electrical Testing Protocols
To summarize, the electrical testing protocols (listed below) characterize industry temperature requirements and test objectives. These are the proper methodologies for testing electronic components.

There are five industrial categories for testing components: commercial, industrial, automotive, military/aerospace and space.

Commercial. Perform DC, AC functional and parametric testing over the temperature range of 0 to +70°C.

Industrial. Perform DC, AC functional and parametric testing over the temperature range of -40 to +85°C.

Automotive. Perform DC, AC functional and parametric testing over the temperature range of -45 to +110°C.

Military and aerospace. Subgroups 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8A, 8B, 9, 10, 11 over the temperature range of -55 to +125C.

Space. Subgroups 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8A, 8B, 9, 10, 11 over the temperature range of -65 to +150C.

After testing electronics components for over 30 years, we have found that by exercising the proper testing methodologies, the electronics industry can have more confidence in the performance and distribution of these products. When performed correctly, proper electrical testing provides a more thorough exercise in analyzing performance accuracy thereby ensuring risk mitigation.

Counterfeit electronic components continue to become more sophisticated and therefore harder to detect. Some of the more recent component testing instruments can be fooled by sophisticated cloned or counterfeit components. It often takes sophisticated and thorough testing to spot a fake.

International Counterfeit Detective
NJ Micro Electronic Testing's VP and Director of Operations Joseph Federico has nearly 35 years of electronic testing experience. Mr Federico has built his career by earning various laboratory certification titles from the Department of Defense and turning NJ Micro Electronic Labs into a leader in Military, Industrial, Automotive and Aerospace testing.

One of the most sought-after counterfeit electronics experts in the world, he is the first American engineer to receive invitations to China, Israel, and Russia to meet with aerospace companies and electronic component distributors to raise awareness about electrical component counterfeiting. He received the Israeli ODEM (Diamond) award in recognition of his efforts in developing the technology to prevent counterfeit and cloned component fraud exposing the epidemic of counterfeit parts in military and aerospace electronic component manufacturing.

He developed Mission Imposter®, a comprehensive inspection process performed at NJ Micro Electronic Testing that is designed to detect counterfeit and cloned electronic component products. Mr. Federico and NJMET's efforts to promote awareness of counterfeiting led to honors from Heartbeat of America, a television program hosted by William Shatner. During the show, Joseph Federico and NJMET received the Keeping America Strong award, presented by retired United States Navy Rear Admiral Kevin F. Delaney.

Contact: NJ Micro Electronic Testing, 1240 Main Avenue, Clifton, NJ 07011 973-546-5393 Web:

Add your comment:

Full Name:

search login