Breakthrough Developments in Electroless Nickel/Gold Plating On Copper Based Semiconductors
Semiconductor companies are once again at the threshold of another industry-wide technology change which will make integrated circuits significantly faster, smaller, and cheaper [1-2]. For over thirty years, nearly all silicon-based semiconductors have been made using aluminum as the conductor material. Critical advances in the last several years have enabled the development and implementation of copper into semiconductor designs [3-4]. Volume production has begun within a few large vertically integrated companies, and many others are quickly advancing their own copper technologies and moving forward along aggressive internal roadmaps.
As with any technology evolution, new manufacturing methods, materials, and equipment are required to implement the technology. The front-end manufacturing facilities required for making chips with copper conductors are substantially different than those for making IC’s using aluminum. All of the OEMs are developing this next generation of manufacturing equipment. In addition to front-end operations, there will have to be changes, and technology advancements, in the back-end processes. These include the development of new interconnect schemes for connecting the IC’s to the next layer of packaging, i.e. wirebonding, flip chip, etc. It is well understood that the interconnection properties are an integral part of the total system design and will require the same diligence as in the front-end process development to ensure performance and reliability of copper based ICs.
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