Japan firms making test sockets with 10x lifetimes

May 2, 2006 – Japanese semiconductor test house Genesis Technology Inc. (GTI) and Kobe Steel Ltd. have developed a method to prolong the service life of chip tester sockets by a factor of 10, according to local news reports.

To verify performance, chips are fitted into a test bed socket, where their terminals contact the socket terminals to test a variety of voltage conditions. After about 10,000 operations the terminals’ performance degrades due to wear and contamination, requiring almost daily maintenance.

To address this, the two firms have developed a coating, consisting mainly of synthetic diamond with metal additives to enhance the diamond’s electrical conductivity. Applying a coat of this material several nanometers thick boost the durability of the socket terminals.

GTI started out as an affiliate of Kobe Steel, and was spun out in a management buyout in April 2003.


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