Electrical & Thermal Performance

In electronic devices, electrical and thermal performances are often tightly related.  The performance of many electronic components depends on temperature, and specifications are typically only valid within certain temperature ranges.  As electronics become increasingly integrated into everyday devices, the various components that make up these devices will be expected to survive and function properly under more extreme environmental conditions.

Exponent’s team of engineers is well-versed in simultaneously characterizing the thermal and electrical properties of functioning electronics.  Ambient and component-specific temperatures can be measured, and airflow can be visualized to determine the effect and efficiency of fans or other forms of cooling.  Exponent’s engineers are also capable of providing recommendations for performance and reliability improvements based on a review of thermal and electrical measurements.

Exponent’s electrical and thermal characterization capabilities include:


  • DC and AC resistance measurements
  • 4-point resistance measurements
  • Capacitance and inductance measurements
  • Current-voltage (I-V) curve characterization
  • Frequency response
  • Infrared thermal imaging
  • Semiconductor hot-spot measurement using emission microscopy or infrared microscopy

Exponent has utilized numerous other characterization techniques, including customized testing that involves characterization during or after the application of external stresses such as high current load, high/low temperatures, or mechanical stresses.

Out-of-the-box performance is often only half of the story, however; electronic devices are frequently expected to maintain their performance over a period of years with no noticeable change in function.  To investigate long-term reliability, Exponent’s engineers design and execute reliability and accelerated life testing to help identify weak points in the device design that may limit lifetime or present warranty concerns.  Reliability testing may include the following conditions:


  • High temperature
  • High humidity
  • Thermal cycling
  • Power cycling
  • Overvoltage and overcurrent conditions

Analysis of reliability test results is often conducted in concert with our Materials and Corrosion and Mechanical practices in order to understand failure modes such as corrosion and fatigue.

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