It’s the Art of Failure Analysis photo comp

Fresh from Singapore’s International Symposium on the Physical and Failure Analysis of Integrated Circuits comes a fascinating selection of images which were entered into, yes, the conference’s annual photography competition

Fresh from Singapore’s International Symposium on the Physical and Failure Analysis of Integrated Circuits comes a fascinating selection of images which were entered into, yes, the conference’s annual photography competition…

The winning image was by Lim Saw Sing of Infineon Technologies in Malaysia, who won first prize for the above picture of what could well be a large group of people cavorting on a beach (and clearly on drugs). It’s actually a scanning electron microscope image of what happened when Sing “exposed a polyimide surface to etching by reactive ions”.

Tan Lee Koon of Systems-on-Silicon Manufacturing Co. took third prize with this image of the chipping at the edge of a silicon wafer, examined under a scanning electron microscope

According to the IEEEthe professional association for “the advancement of technology” which organises the symposium, Singapore has one of the largest concentrations of microelectronics technology expertise in Asia.

Flocking to its IPFA conference are a legion of “researchers, engineers, technicians and others who work in the area of Failure Analysis in Wafer FAB, Packages, Board Assembly and Service Labs.”

While we’re not entirely sure what that means (though ‘failure analysis’ is essentially the process of finding out why a particular electronic component fails to work), we do very much like the idea of their photography competition in which images are submitted taken by people working with extremely high powered microscopes.

The results were recently announced on the IEEE’s Spectrum website and linked to by

According to point three of the rules of the photo competition, “The main judging criterion would be the aesthetic aspect of the image rather than its technical quality to be in line with the theme of the contest. Nevertheless, the image must be related to failure analysis.”

In no particular order, then, here are some of our other favourites from this year’s competition.

This is Lim Chan Way at Infineon Technologies’ picture of a membrane structure (top) sticking to a piece of carbon tape:

This image of what appears to be a set of wings is by Advanced Micro Devices analyst, Foo Fang Jie, who was looking at a fracture in a sample of silicon at the time. It won second prize.

And these scientists are not without a sense of humour in pursuit of lovely imagery. Here’s Jacqueline Kwa at Advanced Micro Devices’ transmission electron microscope picture of a rather elephantine silicon sample:

Finally, Khoo Bing Sheng took this image of a 20-micrometer-wide sculpture made from copper (using focused-ion-beam nano fabrication) at WinTech Nano-Technology.

The full list of winning work is at the IEEE’s Spectrum website,


CR for the iPad
Read in-depth features and analysis plus exclusive iPad-only content in the Creative Review iPad App. Longer, more in-depth features than we run on the blog, portfolios of great, full-screen images and hi-res video. If the blog is about news, comment and debate, the iPad is about inspiration, viewing and reading. As well as providing exclusive, iPad-only content, the app will also update with new content throughout each month. Try a free sample issue here


CR in Print
The August Olympic Special issue of Creative Review contains a series of features that explore the past and present of the Games to mark the opening of London 2012: Adrian Shaughnessy reappraises Wolff Olins’ 2012 logo, Patrick Burgoyne talks to LOCOG’s Greg Nugent about how Wolff Olins’ original brand identity has been transformed into one consistent look for 2012, Eliza Williams investigates the role of sponsorship by global brands of the Games, Mark Sinclair asks Ian McLaren what it was like working with Otl Aicher as a member of his 1972 Munich Olympics design studio, Swiss designer Markus Osterwalder shows off some of his prize Olympic items from his vast archive, and much more. Plus, Rick Poynor’s assessment of this year’s Recontres d’Arles photography festival, and Michael Evamy on the genius of Yusaku Kamekura’s emblem for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Please note, CR now has a limited presence on the newsstand at WH Smith high street stores (although it can still be found in WH Smith travel branches at train stations and airports). If you cannot find a copy of CR in your town, your WH Smith store or a local independent newsagent can order it for you. You can search for your nearest stockist here. Alternatively, call us on 020 7970 4878 to buy a copy direct from us. Based outside the UK? Simply call +44(0)207 970 4878 to find your nearest stockist. Better yet, subscribe to CR for a year here and save yourself almost 30% on the printed magazine.

More from CR

RSA print exhibition in aid of Kids Company

RSA FIlms is hosting an exhibition of photographic prints by its directors at KK Outlet in London this Thursday, with all the prints auctioned on the night in aid of the charity Kids Company. Here’s a glimpse of some of the prints that will be on show…

Set in Stone: the Babson Boulders

Carved into giant granite boulders by unemployed stonecutters in the 1930s, the 23 inspirational messages of the Babson Boulders are a unique work of graphic design

Are you Hank Marvin?

We have a signed Fender Squier electric guitar to give away to one of our readers, and are also offering the chance for you to see your work published by CR, in return for a poster of your dream gig…

Graphic Designer

Fushi Wellbeing

Creative Designer

Monddi Design Agency