iRel40: The European Initiative Determined to Improve Component Reliability

February 17, 2021 by Luke James

Europe-wide research initiative Intelligent Reliability 4.0 (iRel40), coordinated by Infineon, brings together 75 science, tech, and engineering partners from across 13 countries who are sharing resources to achieve this goal.

Reliability is an extremely important consideration for engineers who are tasked with selecting components in their designs. And as electronic design grows increasingly complex while becoming physically smaller, reliability will become a much bigger pain point. 

Now, a group of over 70 science, tech, and engineering partners are coming together to improve component reliability and reduce failure rates across the value chain under the "Intelligent Reliability 4.0" (iRel40) initiative


An Open Information Exchange

Coordinated by Infineon, this large-scale collaboration will see key players in the electronics industry improve component reliability by pooling resources in an open information exchange format. 

In a press release, Infineon describes iRel’s approach to optimizing the reliability of microelectronic systems—from wafer to chip and beyond—as “holistic,” with the end goal of significantly improving product quality and lifetime and promoting the sustainable management of natural resources. 


iRel40 aims to focus on reliability throughout the value chain

iRel40 aims to focus on reliability throughout the value chain. Image used courtesy of iRel40

“Enhancing electronics performance through miniaturization and integrating more and more functions is progressing steadily. Performance and complexity are increasing, as the costs per function go down,” says Dr. Reinhard Ploss, CEO of Infineon Technologies AG.

Ploss goes on to comment on how powerful electronics will be at the core of next-gen technologies like autonomous vehicles and renewable energies, but that their long-term success will be dependent on reliable functionality. 


Mission-Critical Applications Require Reliability

What Infineon means by a “holistic” approach isn’t clear. The press release itself is scarce on details—as is the iRel website—simply stating that those involved are leaning on material research, failure analysis (referring to modeling and simulation), and AI to improve reliability, a goal which itself is ambiguous. 

Processes and methods developed under iRel40 will be verified in sixteen use cases (e.g., energy, transport, industry) as well as eighteen factory pilots. Project leaders also assert that they will improve manufacturing procedures for microelectronics by using "optical methods" and sensors. This, iRel feels, will decrease failure rate during production and ultimately enhance the reliability of new products entering the market. 


iRel40 includes 8 working plans (WPs)

iRel40 includes eight working plans (WPs). Image used courtesy of iRel40

Reliability is a high-ticket item in applications like LiDAR systems for the automotive market. These are highly-sensitive systems, and GaN-based power transistors (where high reliability is crucial) are currently driving innovations in this field. 

The initiative could also strengthen Europe as a business location, says the press release. Infineon reckons that it’ll lead to the creation of 25,000 skilled jobs through strong partnerships and investments. The EU is also funding iRel40 under the Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership (ECSEL) program.