Discrete Components & Printed Circuit Boards

An expert analyzes a circuit board. Exponent engineers provide expert analysis of discrete components & printed circuit boards​

Identify the role of printed circuit boards (PCBs) and components in electronic device failure

Exponent can help you analyze issues with discrete components and PCBs, from small surface mount components measured in millimeters to large inductors and capacitors in power circuits.

How do you optimize the reliability of your discreet components and printed circuit boards?

Printed circuit boards — the boards that carry discrete components and route circuits — are often the root cause of analog and digital device failures. Our PCB and discrete component projects typically involve failure analysis, design reviews, and electrical simulation of the components in a circuit. Exponent's electrical engineering and computer science professionals examine PCBs using both scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive spectroscopy techniques, which assist in identifying potential liquid ingress or corrosion, while techniques such as infrared imaging and mechanical cross-sectioning — combined with high-resolution metallography — are used when analyzing PCB damage or failure.

Issues like metallic whiskers, conductive filaments, and dendrites are other frequent causes of electronic device or material failure. In these instances, our experts across multiple disciplines often work together to identify and address issues in PCBs that range from manufacturing to end-use.

For quality, risk, and reliability analysis, our engineers perform stress testing as well as replication testing to determine the specific root cause of a failed component or device. Our failure analysis begins with component-level inspection of the device. Deeper analysis may involve cross-sectioning by mechanical polishing or use of a focused ion beam to examine the structure of a component or PCB at a micron scale or below. Engineers in Exponent's Materials and Corrosion practice are frequently consulted when electrical failure is believed to have stemmed from a component material failure.

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