Cascade Introduces Tesla Power Device Characterization System

Cascade Microtech announced its new Tesla power device characterization system. Tesla, unlike any other probing system, solves the on-wafer probing challenges for engineers and test technicians who need to characterize their power devices. The power semiconductor market is projected to grow from $25.8B in 2007 to $34.2B in 2009(1) fueled by the use of power devices in everything from industrial products to consumer electronics.

The broad use of power semiconductors has created a pressing need to characterize devices quickly and efficiently. Design engineers and test technicians are under pressure to speed up the time-to-market for new power devices. To drive dramatic gains in productivity, Cascade Microtech designed Tesla, the industry’s first power device measurement system providing a complete on-wafer solution for over- temperature, low contact resistance measurements of power semiconductors up to 60A and 3000V.

Until now — power device characterization has been a major hassle
For years, power semiconductor device manufacturers have been forced to package their devices prior to characterization and model extraction. Wafer-level measurements on power devices have historically been fraught with unreliable or inaccurate data, extra costs, and uncertain delays in development schedules. Cascade Microtech’s Tesla system finally solves this problem.

“The Tesla power device measurement system will reduce costs by eliminating the hassles of packaging devices before we characterize them,” said Edouard de Fresart, power device section manager, SMARTMOS Technology Center, Freescale Semiconductor. “It will have a huge effect on our productivity by reducing the wasted time and steps we incur in packaging while still providing accurate test data.”

Power semiconductors in demand worldwide according to Yole Developpement PowerD-06 report
“Worldwide demand for power semiconductors is growing due to the double-digit demand for more efficient power utilization,” said Philippe Roussel, project manager, Power Electronics, Yole Developpement, Lyon, France.

Power devices such as MOSFETs, (metal oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor) bipolar junction transistors (BJT), rectifiers, thyristors and insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBT) are widely used in cell phone infrastructures, laptop computers, alternative energy vehicles, home appliances, electric trains and more. Power devices are characterized by their ability to accommodate higher current density, higher power dissipation and/or higher reverse breakdown voltage.

Technology innovations allow new on-wafer power device testing
Cascade Microtech’s Tesla system features two new wafer probes, including a high current probe that reduces the potential for probe and device destruction during testing. The probe can support an unprecedented 10A of current in continuous mode and up to 60A of current in pulsed mode. To reduce device heating, the probe tip is designed to minimize contact resistance at the wafer-to-probe interface.

The Tesla system also features a high voltage probe that ensures a high performance electrical measurement path at high voltages. The high voltage probe provides the capability to make coaxial measurements up to 3000V and triaxial measurements up to 1100V. In addition, both the high current and the high voltage probes feature a replaceable tip that is easily changed. The Tesla system’s wafer chuck provides state-of-the-art handling for thin wafers. An exclusive chuck top technology provides the right amount of vacuum in a delicate method that protects against wafer breakage and probe damage, all while ensuring a minimal contact resistance.

Other safety features of the Tesla system include the highly insulated and electrically shielded cable assemblies that provide both triaxial performance and high current/high voltage handling capabilities. To ensure operator safety, ease of set-up and configuration, Tesla offers a safety interlock system and remote system operation. The measurement environment and every component in the measurement path is designed and tested by Cascade Microtech to comply with voltages up to 3000V.

Price and availability for the complete Tesla system
Tesla is a turnkey, scaleable system. It is optimized for ease of purchase and configuration to create a safe testing environment for power semiconductor devices. Tesla includes Cascade Microtech’s industry-leading wafer probe station and probes and proprietary safety components. The Tesla system starts at U.S. $200,000. Pricing depends upon user options selected. Delivery is 12 weeks upon receipt of order. For more information, contact your Cascade Microtech sales representative at

About Cascade Microtech
Cascade Microtech, Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCD) is a worldwide leader in the precise electrical measurement and test of integrated circuits (ICs) and other small structures. For technology businesses and scientific institutions that need to evaluate small structures, Cascade Microtech delivers access to, and extraction of, electrical data from wafers, integrated circuits (ICs), IC packages, circuit boards and modules, MEMs, biological structures, electro- optic devices and more. Cascade Microtech’s leading-edge semiconductor production test consumables include unique probe cards and test sockets that reduce manufacturing costs of high-speed and high-density semiconductor chips.

(1) Source: Yole Developpement PowerD-06 report. Yole Developpement is the world leader in the analysis of the microtechnologies and compound semiconductors markets.