A Study of the Electrical Flame Off Process During Thermosonic Wire Bonding with Novel Wire Materials
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Thermosonic ball bonding is the most popular method used to create electrical interconnects between integrated circuits (ICs) and substrates in the microelectronics industry. Traditionally gold (Au) wire is used, however with industry demands for lower costs and higher performance, novel wire materials are being considered. Some of these wire materials include Cu, insulated, and coated wires. The most promising of which being Cu wire. Some of the main issues with these wire materials is their performance in the electrical flame off (EFO) step of the wire bonding process. In the EFO step a ball called the free air ball (FAB) is formed on the end of the wire. The quality of the FAB is essential for reliable and strong ball bonds. In Cu wire bonding the hardness of the FAB and oxidation are the main issues. A hard FAB requires larger bonding forces and US levels to make the bond which increases the likelihood of damage to the IC. Excessive oxidation acts as a contaminant at the bond interface and can also influence the shape of the FAB. Shielding gases are required to reduce oxidation and improve FAB quality. This thesis focuses on the EFO process and the influence of EFO parameters and shielding gases on Au and Cu FABs. The primary focus of this thesis is to provide a better understanding of the EFO process in order to expedite the introduction of novel wire materials into industry. Several different experiments are performed on an automated thermosonic wire bonder with 25 µm Au and Cu wires to investigate the EFO process during ball bonding. The effects of EFO parameters on the hardness and work hardening of FABs and the effects of shielding gas type and flow rates on the quality of the FABs are determined. The EFO discharge characteristics in different shielding gases is also studied to better understand how the composition of the atmosphere the FAB is formed in influences the energy input via the EFO electrical discharge. Using the online deformability method and Vickers microhardness testing it is found that the EFO current (IEFO) and EFO time (tEFO) have a large influence on the hardness and work hardening of Au and Cu FABs. A harder FAB produced with a large IEFO and low tEFO will work harden less during deformation. The bonded ball will be softer than that of a FAB produced with a lower IEFO and higher tEFO. The online deformability method is found to be twice as precise as the Vickers microhardness test. An online method for characterizing the quality of FABs is developed and used to identify shielding gas flow rates that produce defective FABs. The EFO process for an Au wire and two Cu wire materials is investigated in flow rates of 0.2-1.0 l/min of forming gas (5 % H2 + 95 % N2) and N2 gas. All three of the most common FAB defects are identified with this online method. It is found that good quality FABs cannot be produced above flow rates of 0.7 l/min and that H2 in the shielding gas adds a thermal component to the EFO process. It is recommended that the gas flow rate be optimized for each new wire type used. The EFO discharge power is measured to be 12 % higher in a N2 gas atmosphere than in a forming gas atmosphere. The lower ionization potential of the forming gas leads to a higher degree of ionization and therefore lower resistance across the discharge gap. It was found that the discharge power does not determine the energy transferred to the wire anode because the Au FAB produced in forming gas has a 6 % larger diameter than that of the FABs produced in N2 gas. Other factors that effect the voltage of the EFO discharge include the controlled EFO current, the discharge gap, and the wire anode material.