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Pernicka Unveils World's First CHLD Hermeticity Test System for Medical and Space Applications


New test methodology offers order-of-magnitude improvement in hermeticity testing, extends service life of implantable medical devices and satellite electronics.

Fort Collins, Colorado, January, 2006 – Pernicka Corporation, a global leader in analytical and vacuum technologies, today announced the availability of the Pernicka Model 700G, the first production Cumulative Helium Leak Detection (CHLD) Test System. Pernicka developed the CHLD technology to address increasingly stringent reliability needs in medical, space, and high-reliability semiconductor applications . The Model 700G CHLD Test System tests virtually any type of hermetic package to insure absolute integrity. For implantable medical devices, this insures better resistance to contamination of the device by body fluids. For satellites, CHLD insures longer operational life of all electronics in the system.

A key feature of the Pernicka Model 700G Test System is its ability to detect any type of leakage. Implantable medical insulin pumps, for example, typically contain a small gas chamber with pressurized gas as a power source. The Model 700G can detect a leak in this chamber, as well as in the overall package of the insulin pump. In space applications, this ability to detect any type of leakage can dramatically extend service life. Many components used in satellite applications are gas-pressurized internally. Even an extremely slow leak means the component will fail. Pernicka's Model 700G can detect leak rates as low as 10 -13 (one-tenth of one-trillionth) of an atmospheric cubic centimeter (cc) per second; this can extend component life by many years.

The CHLD process replaces the old, two-step fine-leak and gross-leak tests with a single-step process. This increases overall throughput while achieving notably higher accuracy. The old gross-leak test uses ozone-depleting CFC solvents. CHLD does not use CFCs, which protects the environment and means that medical devices can be 100-percent tested before use. This 100-percent testability is unique to CHLD, and is already in service testing implantable medical devices, as well as for testing components NASA uses in satellites.

“The unique innovation in CHLD is that it is a closed system. It accumulates and analyzes all gases in the system, instead of trying to sense them as they escape. As a result, we are able to detect extremely small, slow leaks that might not show up in service for months or years,” says John Pernicka, president of Pernicka Corporation and primary inventor of the process. “The Model 700G is 1000 times more sensitive than the old process to small or slow leaks.”

In the Pernicka Model 700G Test System, the package to be tested is first subjected to very high pressure helium gas, using a helium bomb and the same process used for traditional leak detection. The package is then placed in the 700G test chamber, and the pressure is reduced with a cryopump, specially designed for this application. The cryopump ‘freezes' nitrogen, oxygen, and other heavier gases, leaving any trace helium in the gaseous state. The test chamber is evacuated through a mass spectrometer, which analyzes all material removed from the chamber, including the test gas and anything else.



The Pernicka Model 700G Test System is the first commercially-available system to fully implement Mil-Std 750 Method 1071 Procedure CH1-CH2. The Model 700G comes with a complete vacuum system and mass spectrometer. The system includes a built-in computer to run it and analyze the data; Pernicka includes all necessary software for the Windows XP environment with the system.

The Model 700G is available from Pernicka Corporation today, lead time is 12 weeks. A standard test fixture is included; custom test fixtures for special applications are available as well. Pernicka also offers testing services based on the CHLD process for customers who wish to evaluate the process, or whose test volumes are small.