CSAM – Scanning Acoustic Microscopy

Electronic Components

CSAM – Scanning Acoustic Microscopy

Scanning acoustic microscopy (SAM) also denominated acoustic micro imaging (AMI) and scanning acoustic tomography (SAT) is a consolidated and recognized tool for quality control, inspection and failure analysis of microelectronic components and materials.


Among other types of failures, acoustic techniques are particularly suitable for the detection of those irregularities involving materials and density changes, including voids and porosity as well as cracks and delamination, in any kind of EEE components. 

Therefore this NON-DESTRUCTIVE testing method is included in different EVALUATION, SCREENING and LOT VALIDATION flows for several families of EEE components, which can be found in the doEEEt platform

ALTER TECHNOLOGY has more than 30 years of experience on this testing method, with the perfect cocktail of cutting edge equipment and experienced technicians. 

C-SAM Inside

Main CSAM activities and services

Our test services and target applications include:

Reliability test

Quality Control Screening task

Preliminary non-destructive inspection in DP

The reliability test consists of two phases: Evaluation/QualificationDuring the evaluation phase, components/technologies can be extensively characterized, and margins determined: constructional analysis, electrical testing, environmental testing. If the evaluation is successful, we can then proceed with Qualification; once qualified, the component is listed in the QPL (Qualified Part List). 

In Alter Technology, we specialize in designing tests and screening procedures for electronic components used in the aerospace, defense, and industrial electronics industries. Tests, inspections, or combination thereof, imposed on 100% of parts to remove unsatisfactory items or those likely to exhibit early failures. 

Destructive Physical Analysis DPA is a systematic, logical, detailed examination of EEE parts at various stages of physical disassembly. This activity is performed in order to verify that the manufactured lot quality is in accordance with the detailed specification and project requirements.   

Failure Analysis

3D Tomography


Failure analysis is the process of analyzing the component data or the component itself to determine the reason(s) for degraded performance or catastrophic failure of a component either, during component manufacturing and testing, during incoming inspection, or after delivery to the customer, at the final application.  

The 3-dimensional information acquired in X-scans permits the tomographic reconstruction of the system’s internal structure. The purpose of a Radiographic Inspection is to nondestructively detect defects that are not otherwise visible: improper positioning of parts, broken elements, inhomogeneities in materials, foreign objects…  

Microsection analysis is performed on an assembled through-hole device as a part of failure analysis. Cross-section through the plane of interest can provide helpful information about solder defects, PCB inner layers, and internal construction. The plane of interest must be selected considering PCB characteristics, observed failure, and previous test results. 



How it works Scanning Acoustic Microscopy (C-SAM)

The working principle of the technique is based on the reflection that acoustic waves experience at the interface between different media and density irregularities. Thus, the approach makes use of focalized ultrasound (MHz to GHz) pulses to image material interfaces and boundaries as well as hidden physical damages, either generated during  manufacturing or induced after environmental testing and prolonged normal operation.

The technique is routinely used for the nondestructive detection failures of internal flaws such as:

     >  Delaminations
     >  Voids and porosity
     >  Cracks
     > Particles inclusions and foreign materials
     >  …

In / through packing materials including mold compounds, semiconductors, ceramics and glasses, adhesives (e.g. underfills) and metals.

SAM Capabilities

SAM is acoustic microscopy that gives resolution and inspection depth is an inversely related parameter that depends on the probe frequency and the characteristics of the involved materials


C-SAM is a reliable and powerful tool for the non-destructive testing of microelectronic parts and base materials. Moreover, it is mandatory for different applications such as those described below for different sectors.

Virtual LAB

We offer support and follow-up at all times thanks to Virtual Lab; where immediate access is generated and in real time to all the information on the parts examined.



SAM: Non-Destructive Inspection Of Plastic COTS Parts And Beyond

During this webinar, we talk about how the Sam technique is the best technique to inspect commercial EEE components for its implementation in high-reliability applications since it provides a deep analysis of the internal structure, integrity, stability, and defect identification of the devices.

CSAM - Scanning Acoustic Microscopy

Working process of C-SAM in EEE Parts

Francisco Javier Aparicio Rebollo
March 28, 2019
Working Process Of C-SAM In EEE Parts
Scanning Acoustic Microscopy (C-SAM) for the non-destructive internal inspection of Microelectronic Parts: How it Works and Physics Fundamentals. Scanning acoustic microscopy (SAM), also denominated acoustic micro imagin...

Scanning Microscopy Equipment our new adquisition

Francisco Javier Aparicio Rebollo
May 13, 2019
ALTER TECHNOLGY upgrades its Scanning Acoustic Microscopy capabilities. Alter Technology has upgraded its Scanning Acoustic Microscopy capabilities by acquiring a new FineSAT V acoustic microscope from Hitachi. FineSAT V...

Alter Technology SAM Internal procedure

Francisco Javier Aparicio Rebollo
January 22, 2019
Some specific user requirements cannot be fulfilled by QPL parts (scientific missions). In these situations, plastic encapsulated COTSs are investigated. We comply with the applicable specification so that in this case t...

Alter Technology SAM Testing Capabilities

Francisco Javier Aparicio Rebollo
June 17, 2019
Depth mapping
Scanning Acoustic Microscopy Service A-scan, B-scan, C-scan, and Through-scan Circuit, non-circuit, and through-transmitted signal are systematically inspected at different focal depths Delamination (phase inversions) is...
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ALTER TECHNOLOGY is a quality driven company providing procurement, engineering and test services for electronic components and systems, within space and harsh environment markets.