SUSS MicroTec today announced that the Fraunhofer Institute, a leading research organization located in Itzehoe, Germany, has chosen its SB6e substrate bonder to develop more commercially viable MEMS applications.
One of the largest costs associated with bringing MEMS to market is device packaging. Traditionally, each die is packaged individually. In certain applications, packaging represents up to 90 percent of the total cost of the device. By using the SB6e to develop more cost-effective wafer-level packaging processes for MEMS, the Fraunhofer Institute expects to lower device costs, thereby increasing MEMS marketability. These processes are being developed in conjunction with MELODICT, a European Union-sponsored project focused on the commercial development of RF-MEMS transceivers for wireless communications.
The SUSS tool was selected for its superior process control and extendibility. Designed for a laboratory environment, the SB6e enables processes to be easily transferred from lab development to volume production because it shares key components with SUSS volume-production bonders ABS150e and ABS200.
"We plan to develop technologies and products that will be produced in large volumes. Therefore, we need a partner who can join us in basic R&D and remain through volume production. With its expertise in MEMS, SUSS is the best choice for this essential role," said Professor Dr. Anton Heuberger, director of the Fraunhofer Institute in Itzehoe. "Thus far, the SUSS SB6e has perfectly supported our bonding techniques, in a way that's cost-efficient and compatible with mass production. Consequently, we plan to invest in SUSS production bonding equipment as demand increases for developed products."
Most MEMS devices, including RF-MEMS, must be packaged under very controlled atmospheric conditions to ensure reliability and good performance. To meet these needs, the Fraunhofer has developed a fluxless, lead-free solder bonding process for wafer-level encapsulation of the microstructure. For the wafer-to-wafer bonding involved in this process, the SUSS SB6e in combination with the SUSS BA6 bond aligner has already been successfully used. The SUSS bonder enabled thermo-compression bonding and showed good wetting, homogenous bonding, high bonding strength and excellent hermetic sealing.
Jeff Dumas, international product manager for the substrate bonder line at SUSS MicroTec, said, "SB6e can help the industry overcome one of the key obstacles to delivering on the promise of MEMS, and that's cost. We are very honored that an organization of Fraunhofer Institute's stature has chosen our tool for process development that could really energize the MEMS market. Our relationship with the Fraunhofer goes back more than 20 years. However, we still consider this a major win because the competition for this prime opportunity was substantial."
The SB6e processes six-inch wafers, while the SB8e processes eight-inch wafers. Both tools are semi-automatic, computer-controlled, stand-alone substrate bonders. Representing the latest generation of SUSS substrate bonders, the systems feature rigid vacuum-pressure chambers, upper and lower independent heaters, and wafer-stack loading arms.
With its extensive portfolio of bonder products, SUSS is the most comprehensive bonder supplier in the semiconductor process equipment market. The portfolio includes substrate and wafer bonders, flip-chip and device bonders, fusion bonders, and temporary bonders. No other single company in the industry offers more bonding solutions, equipment functionality, applications expertise, and after-sales support.
SUSS MicroTec supplies production, process and test technology for the semiconductor industry.