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Decapping ICs (removing epoxy packaging from chips to expose the dies)

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Published on Aug 13, 2012

I thought it would be interesting to try decapping some chips. This involves using fuming nitric acid, which also seemed fun, so I thought I would give it a go. The process starts by milling a precise pocket into the IC using my CNC machine. I used carbide tooling to cut the glass fiber/epoxy material. I then put a drop or two of the acid into the pocket, and raised the temperature to about 100*C. The acid dissolves the epoxy packaging as it sort of "dries". I added more acid to the pocket every few minutes. After about 10 minutes, I washed the IC in acetone, then reapplied acid if there was still material left on the die. Eventually, it was all cleared away, and I had a nice decapped IC.

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