European research project iRel40: Improving the reliability of electronic components for future applications

The Europe-wide research initiative Intelligent Reliability 4.0 (iRel40) aims to improve the reliability of electronic systems and microelectronic components.
iRel40 adopts a holistic approach to optimizing the reliability of microelectronic systems along the entire value chain – from the wafer to the chip and the packaging and finally to the system and hence the actual application. The aim is to significantly reduce failure rates and thus improve product quality and lifetime. This approach also contributes to more sustainable management of our natural resources.

Experts from science and industry in Europe are working together to achieve this. They are relying on the latest insights and methods in material research and failure analysis, including modeling and simulation, as well as artificial intelligence. The project is divided into eight work packages that deal with aspects such as requirements, theoretical principles, materials, test methods, and pilot applications.


Fraunhofer IISB conduct a semiconductor manufacturing line for electronic devices. Thereon silicon carbide power devices are established, too. With the integrated manufacturing of SiC chips utilizing the same production line as silicon power chips, IISB is able to guarantee reliability and process stability at the same level as its silicon device. Furthermore, SiC is well adapted for application up to 500°C because of its wide band gap.

Especially amplification circuits on SiC are of great importance for sensors working in the temperature range up to 500°C. Even when the SiC circuits work at those high temperatures, nothing is known about its reliability. Fraunhofer IISB analyze the reliability of CMOS SiC circuits up to 500°C with the focus on conduction paths, e.g. metallization lines.


© Fraunhofer IISB

Key contribution

Together with its partner TU Delft, Fraunhofer IISB design the amplification circuits for the wide band gap material SiC. The application is the amplification of a sensor signal and the integration of a sensor system working up to 500°C developed at TU Delft. Additionally appropriate test structures where integrated in the design for reliability measurements at high temperatures.

Afterwards, the circuits will be manufactured on the Fraunhofer IISB SiC line. The circuits will be submitted to long-term reliability tests at elevated temperatures. The results heron will be used for an optimized design and manufacturing in a second run. At last, a long-term study of the reliability will be conducted together with the first modelling of the reliability of the SiC CMOS amplifiers.


European Funding

iRel40 is an European co-funded innovation project that has been granted by the ECSEL Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement No 876659. The funding of the project comes from the Horizon 2020 research programme and participating countries. National funding is provided by Germany, including the Free States of Saxony and Thuringia, Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.