Vibration Analysis as a Counterfeit Dectection Tool

“Vibration analysis is performed to identify defects or drifts in electronic equipment across various stages of its life. Vibration test systems are first employed to detect latent defects and faults in electrical, electromechanical, electronic and mechanical hardware at the manufacturing stage,” according to Importance of Vibration Testing for Electronic Equipment by Sam Jacob Thomas.

NJMET uses vibration analysis as part of our PIND (Particle Impact Noise Detection) testing to determine the authenticity of electronic components. We have recently discovered dangerous counterfeit components in two separate customer orders using PIND testing. For more information, see: Particle Impact Noise Detection Finds Non-Authentic Electronic Components.
PIND is just one process in NJMET’s Mission Imposter® Counterfeit Component Testing Program. Mission Imposter is a rigorous set of tests to determine the authenticity of electronic components.

S. 1228: The Combating Military Counterfeits Act of 2011

When they return from August recess, one of the things Congress needs to take up is the S. 1228: Combating Military Counterfeits Act of 2011. This bill is an important step towards protecting the United States from counterfeit electronic components.

These fake components cost jobs and put Americans at risk. The danger is especially high in our military.

One category of counterfeit parts are civilian grade electronic components relabeled as military grade.  Military grade parts have to meet strict standards to work in extreme conditions, such as very hot or extremely cold environments. These situations may be rare in civilian life, but are common for our military.  A civilian grade electronic component may work well on the ground, but fail dangerously in a jet during combat.

For more information about the bill and its status, check out

Job Opening at NJMET — Laboratory Analyst / Assistant / Laboratory Technician

NJMET has an opening in our Component Analysis Group for a Laboratory Analyst / Assistant / Laboratory Technician.  We are looking for someone with a solid electronics and chemistry background with a minimum 3 to 5 years relevant work experience / college degree and equivalent experience. (Electronics / Chemical Engineering or BS Chemistry)

  • Must be computer literate (current software)
  • Solid background in Electronics, Chemistry or Chemical Engineering
  • Must be fluent in English and possess good writing skills
  • Must possess an analytical mind
  • Must have outstanding laboratory report generation skills
  • Must have outstanding customer service skills.

Send resume and cover letter to Joseph Federico via:

  • Email:
  • fax: 973-546-1836
  • mail: NJMET, 1240 Main Ave. Clifton, NJ 07011

Testing Of Electronic Microcircuits

The following is another excerpt from my forthcoming book. The working title is “MISSION IMPOSTER: The Remedy to Detect Counterfeit Electronic Components.”

In recent years many non authentic electronic microcircuits or clones were discovered to work electronically. The question to the electronics industry became just how long will these devices work?

 Joseph Federico Vice President of NJMET, NJ illustrates the following synopsis of proper electrical testing protocols that should be exercised in testing a component for its functional and parametric performance.    

 The test objectives are to exercise the DC and AC Functional and Parametric requirements as indicated on the industry specifications. In cases of military, aerospace and space design, the respective subgroups contained in those documents would suffice for the objective tests. (See Group A Testing in an earlier post.)

 Electrical Testing Illustration

Industry Temperatures Test Objectives
Commercial 0°C – 70°C DC, AC Functional and Parametric Testing
Industrial -40°C – +85°C DC, AC Functional and Parametric Testing
Automotive -45°C – +110°C DC, AC Functional and Parametric Testing
Military / Aerospace -55°C – +125°C Subgroups 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8A, 8B. 9, 10, 11
Space -65°C – +150°C Subgroups 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8A, 8B. 9, 10, 11

 “As an example, for a DM74LS244 octal 3-state buffer/line driver/line receiver, a kelvin/continuity test is performed first to check pin contact. Following this initial check, supply current, then several input current tests as well as off state output current, short circuit output current and output voltage tests are performed to analyze the DC characteristics”, said Joseph Federico.

Once completed, various propogation times are measured along with performing the device’s functional test in order to analyse the A.C. characteristics.

 “After testing electronic components for over thirty years I strongly feel that by exercising the proper testing methodologies above, the industry would have a more confident feeling on the distribution and performance of these products” said Federico.

 For more information on Electrical Testing of Electronic Microcircuits, please call Joseph Federico at NJMET, NJ at (973) 546-5393. Please visit NJMET at

Engineering Analyst / Lab Technician Position Available

NJMET is seeking  Engineering Analyst / Lab Technician

Failure and construction analysis of electronic components have been the primary objective of Component-Analysis.  We are looking for an Engineering Analyst / Lab Technician to help in this area using specialized equipment, such as low & high magnification microscopes, high performance digital cameras, XRF etc.  The services we provide to our customers include:

  • Failure analysis
  • Construction analysis
  • Destructive physical analysis (DPA)
  • XRF Analysis in detection of elements
  • Other chemistry techniques

The successful candidate should have a minimum 3 to 5 years relevant work experience or a college degree and equivalent experience. (Electronics / Chemical Engineering or BS in Chemistry)

He/she should also:

  • Be computer literate (current software)
  • Have a solid background in Electronics, Chemistry or Chemical Engineering
  • Must be fluent in English and possess good writing skills
  • Must possess an analytical mind
  • Must have outstanding laboratory report generation skills
  • Must have outstanding customer service skills.

See on the NJMET website for details on how to apply.

Electrostatic Discharge Inspection On Non-Authentic Electronic Components

The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book. The working title is “MISSION IMPOSTER: The Remedy to Detect Counterfeit Electronic Components.”

Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is the sudden and momentary electric current that flows between two objects at different electrical potentials. The term is usually used in the electronics and other industries to describe momentary unwanted currents that may cause damage to electronic equipment.

 Electrostatic Discharge is one of the most serious problems facing the electronics industry today. A trained staff of operators here at NJMET thoroughly examines the components and packaging they arrive in to detect evidence of any substance capable of inducing static electricity to the product. 

 “Often times we would open shipping boxes and find electronic components packed in styrofoam or wrapped in newspaper with either scotch tape or rubber bands and we immediately reject these orders based on the poor packaging conditions and suspect performance,” said NJMET VP Joseph Federico headquartered in Clifton, NJ.

I have discussed the issue of static electricity and packaing in prior posts. See:

 For more information on ESD Inspection on non authentic devices you can call the NJMET Clifton, NJ headquarters  (973) 546-5393 and ask to speak to Joe Federico,  or visit the NJMET website at

Spotting Counterfeits — Blacktop Marking Tests Get More Sophisticated (Part 2)

Marking Permanency (Resistance to Solvents) Test:
The purpose of a Marking Permanency test is to verify that the component parts, when subjected to solvents, will maintain their correct markings. Counterfeit parts often have new markings which are not permanent; they will dissolve when the solvents are properly applied. Also, the solvents will reveal evidence of previous markings which have been sanded off or otherwise replaced by the false markings.

Various Military Standard procedures are used which incorporate processes of working with several chemicals mixed appropriately and in detail is in accordance with the specifications. These chemicals consist of Aliphatic alcohol, mineral spirits, ethyl-benzene, organic solvents, de-ionized water, propylene glycol monomethyl either, or monoethanloamine.

Once properly mixed the components are submerged in a three phase process and analyzed in accordance with MIL-HBK-130 to uncover evidence of damage to the device and any specified markings which are missing in whole or in part, faded, smeared, blurred, or shifted (dislodged) to the extent that they cannot be readily identified from a distance of at least 15.0cm (6 inches) with normal room lighting and without the aid of magnification or with a viewer having a magnification no greater than 3X. In some cases, a strategic acetone wash will be used to reveal sanding marks and facets of previous markings.

Blacktop marking is just one test in a multistep process used to discover counterfeit electronic components. Other tests include closely checking the physical dimensions and the packaging as well as the performance of the chips. Counterfeit electronic components are on the rise in both military and civilian products. As the counterfeiting gets more sophisticated, testing houses continue to develop finely tuned procedures to separate the fake goods from the real parts.

Spotting Counterfeits — Blacktop Marking Tests Get More Sophisticated (Part 1)

The blacktop markings on counterfeit electronic components are getting much harder to spot. To insure that you don’t have counterfeit components, more sophisticated tests that adhere to military specifications are needed.

When counterfeit electronic components first began surfacing it was often easy to spot them. The markings on the chip would be blatantly wrong such as the wrong logo for the company who supposedly made the product or a marking which would simply rub off. As the counterfeiters have gained sophistication, their electronic components are harder to spot. Even checking the markings on the chip (Blacktop Markings) now requires rigorous testing procedures.

Counterfeit parts have become a significant concern in the electronic component industry. Sometimes these counterfeits are clones – attempts to copy the genuine parts. In other cases, the counterfeiters will re-mark a part. The counterfeiter will take an electronic component created for a specific purpose and change the markings on part so it will appear to be another part.

Why does this matter? Electronic components are built to exact standards to perform highly specific jobs. These components then undergo rigorous testing to ensure they will perform as expect under all circumstances. You would not build an airplane with untested screws that almost fit. It is potentially more dangerous to use electronic components which are almost right.

The military has developed detailed specifications for how to test electronic components. These specifications have become the industry standard, used to test both military and non-military parts. NJMET and other reputable electronic component testing firms adhere to those published specifications. Still, there are variations and proprietary approaches of how to implement those specs and maintain quality control during testing.

My next post will detail some of the specifics involved in Blacktop Marking testing.

CSAM and Accelerated Life Testing

C-Mode Scanning Acoustic Microscopy
CSAM is a screening technique that can uncover anomalies in device package and construction. It has been most reliable in finding distinct differences in device surface coatings that have identified many counterfeit devices.

Accelerated Life Testing
In recent years, much useful methodology has been developed to predict the life of electronic microcircuits using environmental-accelerated steady-state life testing. Such acceleration testing can be vital in predicting the opera-tional future and functional performance of either hermetically sealed or plastic-encapsulated microcircuits. Testing such as component temperature cycling or burn-in has been paramount in exposing counterfeit devices.

Material Analysis

A four-point inspection of the device die, leads, bond wire, and packaging is performed to verify material authenticity. The following tests are conducted separately or together:

Scanning Electron Microscopy
SEM analysis uses a focused beam of high-energy electrons to generate a variety of signals at the surface of the specimens. The signals that derive from electron-sample interactions reveal information about the sample including external morphology, chemical composition, crystalline structure, and orientation of materials that make up the sample to see if these structures meet the manufacturer’s requirements.  The following figures show the differences between an original and a counterfeit.

Materials Analysis Graphs of an Original and Cloned Component
Materials Analysis Graphs of an Original and Cloned Component

Energy-Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy
EDXRS is an analytical technique used for elemental analysis or chemical characterization to see if the elements are verified in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements.

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy
FTIR spectroscopy is used mostly for identifying chemicals that are either organic or inorganic, especially for indi-cating polymer, coatings, and contaminants that help identify counterfeit electronic products.

Energy-Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence
Energy-dispersive XRF is performed to characterize individual particles to verify they meet manufacturing criteria both quantitatively and qualitatively.