Wafer-level electrical probe for transparent electronics

Enables highly reliable and repeatable measurements of see-through semiconductor devices over time with respect to well-controlled illumination and electrical stimuli


A research team at the Defense Microelectronics Activity has recently invented an electro-optical probe system. The patented technology is available via patent license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

See-through electronics hold promise for widespread application in such devices as transparent displays, smart windows, and solar panels. But the broad realization of transparent electronics and further integration of electronics with illumination sources requires the exact knowledge of how semiconductor devices, developed for those technologies, react from a performance and reliability standpoint. Transparent electronics are sensitive to the various photonic energies of incident light at different wavelengths. As a result, the problem currently facing the industry in this field revolves around a better understanding of the reaction of the new technologies to illumination rich environments.

In response, the military scientists have developed an efficient wafer level electrical probe system with multiple wavelength and intensity illumination capabilities. The probe system enables concurrent reliability studies of illumination stimulation, electrical stimulation, and their interplay.

The probe system enables researchers to run controlled experiments whereby the illumination wavelength and intensity can be changed. Using data from these controlled experiments, researchers can learn about the materials of their technology and make improvements at the substrate and physics level. Furthermore, the probe system enables engineers to determine the way a device, circuit, prototype, or product acts under a very specific wavelength (or wavelength mix) and intensity (for quality assurance purposes). With multiple wavelengths and intensities to select from, the probe system provides the ability to deliver an extremely accurate known spectrum of light and intensity to a wide range of devices being tested.

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