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.
- I previously worked on Virtual Reality and other hardware at Valve. I currently work at Google[x].
Prior to starting at Valve, I built computer peripherals such as keyboards, mice, and joysticks that were designed to be used inside MRI machines. My company, Mag Design and Engineering, sold these devices directly to researchers at academic institutions who used them to publish scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals.
After work, I spend time on many different types of projects that usually involve circuit design, machining, material selection, and general fabrication/hacking. My favorite place to be is my home workshop.
ben dot krasnow at gmail