For the last few years, IEEE's International
Symposium on the Physical and Failure Analysis of Integrated Circuits has held an "Art of Failure
Analysis" photo contest. Familiar shapes and patterns occur regularly in nature at the macro level that
can be seen and recognized by almost anyone; e.g., the Nautilus spiral, the Fibonacci series in plant
life, and fractal structures. It takes a high power optical microscope or even a scanning electron microscope
(SEM) to see those familiar sights in the realm of the very small. Sometimes, though, the images are
downright bazaar and look eerily familiar. The first-place winner from the 2012 "Art of Failure Analysis"
is a good example. Titled, "People on the Beach," this SEM image by Infineon's Lim Saw Sing. It is an
exposed polyimide surface that was etched by reactive ions. Is that cool or what?
"The Hope Terrace"
is another familiar sight. It looks just like a formation of tiered cliffs with wind-blown snow or sand
upon them. "Silver Leaves" appears to be an infrared type image of a
cluster of plants. We have seen
a lot plant-like SEM images. "Big Nose" reminds me of Mr. Bill yelling "Oh, nooo...." while pleading for mercy
from Sluggo. "Lunar Eclipse" looks more to me like an annular solar eclipse, but I suppose artistic
license permits the photographer to name it anything he wants.
Here are the winners for
2009, and the first one in
The following thumbnail images are from
the IEEE website. Click on image for larger version.
People on the Beach
Lim Saw Sing
The Hope Terrace
Amy Ng &
Wu Xing &
Pey Kin Leong
Fist of Victory
Joel B. Hosmillo
These images have been chosen for their uniqueness. Subject matter ranges from historic events, to really cool phenomena in science and engineering,
to relevant place, to ingenious contraptions, to interesting products (which now has its own dedicated
Featured Product category).
Cool Pic Archive Pages
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Posted August 14, 2012