John McMaster's image collection

All of my images are released under CC BY unless otherwise noted.

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Relevant equipment list:

  • pr0nscope: CNC microscope. Typically BF imaging, but also have DF, polarized, DIC
  • k2scope: K2 IND CNC confocal microscope
  • brainscope: laser microscope / probe station. 532 nm, 355 nm Nd:YAG
    • 2016: 355 nm laser is operational but needs calibration
    • Misc micropositioners
  • South Bay Technology 910 lapping machine
    • Basic jigs
  • xy-ray x-ray scanner
  • Small CBCT scanner (ie 3D x-ray)
    • Note: produces a 3D video but I don't have a software workflow to process into a real 3D model

Equipment I'd like

  • SEM and/or FIB
  • Wedge bonder


I got a lot of requests to image stuff, so here's my official policy.

TLDR: for a typical chip, I suggest $25-200 donation to get it decapped and imaged for public use. Delayering is extra

  • e-mail me (hobby/public): JohnDMcMaster @@@
  • e-mail me (consulting): john @@@ Note consulting rates are not the same as hobby rates

Please provide the following information for each chip:

  • Can you provide any funding for the work?
    • Commercial or personal interest?
    • Decapping involves harsh chemicals, direct expenses, high NRE, and time so contributions are greatly appreciated
  • Any potential legal issues associated with the chip?
    • If so, it will be evaluated on a case by case basis
    • Ex: DRM, crypto can be problematic
    • Ex: a typical sound chip or microcontroller is not an issue
    • I will not work on: satellite, cable TV
  • Clearly identify the chips, especially if you are sending more than one
    • Ex: specify “344S0061-A” instead of“SWIM”, since that's what's printed on it
  • What deliverables are you looking for?
    • I assume top metal image at 20x by default
    • Let me know if you are looking for other services like ROM extraction or delayering
  • Replaceability/value
    • Occasionally tings go wrong. How much would it cost to get a second one?
  • Any previous knowledge? Maybe things people tried that didn't work?
  • Do you have a particular timeline in mind?
    • Coordinate with me for best results
  • By default I retain copyright and publish work CC BY on

In short, I focus on chips that are of interest to me. I do lots of chips for others, but I give priority to people that are able to provide funds. This section is written with open source projects as the main audience, but note I also offer services through my embedded security consulting service.

In terms of consumables, equipment wear etc, each simple chip costs me about $25 to decap/image (not counting huge equipment NRE). As of 2014, a professional shop charges around $100 for a simple, low resolution top metal dceap/image. People give me upwards of $200 per simple chip if they are feeling generous and want to support other projects. Simple ⇒ not implant ROM and preferably does not require delayering. Not sure what a shop would charge for delayering, but lets say generally 3x the cost of top metal imaging. Chips from the 80's should be simple.

Delayering is typically more risky to the chip and myself (toxic chemicals like hydrofluoric acid). Similar issues with staining and lapping. Lapping is currently extremely labor intensive and not very well refined (although I can get a small area easily).

I prefer to focus on chips that I can (eventually) release on, ideally under CC licenses.

In general I want to focus on R&D / labwork and not hand digitization. I do have some limited semi-automatic digitization capabilities for planarized chips though that I'd like to develop (ex: works on PS1 chipset).

Most of this is targeted towards small chips up to the mid 90's. If the die is obnoxiously large (ex: 486 CPU) it will be difficult for me to photograph and stitch the entire thing. Similarly most of my equipment is targeted towards larger processes (say 180+nm), although I do have a small SEM if required. See XC2C32A for an example 180 nm chip taken with a relatively low power objective, noting in theory I can get about 11x the detail (NA 0.42 ⇒ 1.4).

Other: most of the work is in decapping, not actual imaging. If you happen to already have a bare, clean die and would be satisfied with a quick / lower quality scan, feel free to send me a few dies. This also can work out well since most of the NRE cost is in the microscope, not the decapping supplies.

Chips are non-returnable. If you need something back, please make an explicit agreement before sending.


mit20x vs mit20x2:

  • mit20x: BH2 microscope, MU800 camera, 0.5x relay lens, Mitutoyo M Plan Apo lens
  • mit20x2: BH2 microscope, USB3 camera, 0.75x relay lens?, Mitutoyo M Plan Apo lens
    • Select medium resolution 2736 x 1824
    • 20x
      • 0.42 @ 800 nm ⇒ 952 nm R objective resolution
      • 0.42 @ 532 nm ⇒ 633 nm G objective resolution
      • 0.42 @ 400 nm ⇒ 476 nm B objective resolution
      • About 820 um wide field of view
      • 820 / 2736 = 300 nm / pix raw
        • Cut image by half to sample RGB correctly ⇒ 600 nm / pix
      • 820 / 2736 / 0.5 = 599 nm / pix ultimate image resolution
    • vc60x ⇒ 1.4 NA
      • 1.4 @ 400 nm ⇒ 143 nm objective resolution
      • About 820 / (60/20) ⇒ 273 um FOV
      • 273 um / 2736 pix / 0.5 pix/pix ⇒ 200 nm / pix ultimate image resolution
    • Conclusion: possibly losing slight resolution in blue, but probably good enough

TODO: link github calibration files

Scope Objective NA Resolving power (nm) Camera nm / pix Notes
pr0nscope mit2x 5000 MU800 3550
pr0nscope mit5x 2000 MU800 1420
pr0nscope mit10x 1000 MU800 710
pr0nscope mit20x 700 MU800 355
mit20x2 20MP New camera setup
pr0nscope ns50xu MU800 142?
pr0nscope nd50x MU800 142?
pr0nscope mit50xn 700 MU800 142
pr0nscope mit100x 400 MU800 71 FIXME: correct NA?

Die archive

Chips that were decapped for imaging, but stalled out for one reason or another


  • Konami 054539
    • Embargoed image data to be released 2022-12-13
  • Konami 053246
  • Konami 053247


mcmaster/start.txt · Last modified: 2023/02/16 10:17 (external edit)
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