Static can kill delicate electronics.
From Cray Channels CC_V4_N4 “Cray Research’s new system test equipment focuses on quality.”
The company’s newly-established in house system test facility includes a JEOL Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and a Tracor Northern Xray spectrum analyzer. The SEM and X-ray spectrum analyzer units together offer an extremely wide magnification range (10 to 180,000 times actual size) and analysis of materials composition. The SEM also can be used to run a pulse through the pathway of an integrated circuit, thereby showing how the circuit is functioning. In this process, the voltage path of the circuit is illuminated and the brightness is monitored on the screen . If a circuit has a short or an open cut, the illumination will show a bias, which is a differential between expected brightness and registered brightness. With this tool, bad chips can be identified.