SEMICON West: Success for 3D –focused Companies

Is it mere co-incidence that companies who have invested in 3D technologies seem to have escaped the effects of the downturn and are the companies poised to lead industry growth? I think not. In speaking with various 3D companies at SEMICON West, they all seemed to have good news to share about the past year and moving forward.

Alchimer CEO Steve Lerner talked about the company’s latest addition to the family of all-wet deposition processes and chemistries, AquiVia Fill, a TSV copper plating chemistry specifically formulated for narrow, high aspect ratio (HAR) TSVs; as well as the news that Panasonic Corporation has become an equity investor in Alchimer.

Lerner explained that currently most fill chemistries are too acidic to handle filling HAR vias, address the ‘via pumping’ issues, while also reducing material costs. Alchimer scientists worked on moderating the chemistry with minimal use of additives and were able to develop a mildly basic, high-purity, TSV grade copper plating chemistry that does not degrade the underlying barrier or seed layer.

The deposition process is unique to Alchimer, and is a hybrid of the company’s electrografting and traditional ECD processes. It is deposited bottom-up using legacy ECD tools.

David Butler, Marketing Director for SPP Process Technology Systems (SPTS), reported that the reorganization of SPP, Aviza and STS is complete will be fully integrated by the end of the year; all while being in the midst of the fastest ramp in recent history – the company reported triple the revenue in the first half of the year over all three combined one year ago. “We’ve set an ambitious target for the first calendar year of a new company, and we’re on track to meet it,” says Butler, attributing the success to the company’s focus on emerging technologies such as LEDs, MEMS and, of course, 3D packaging. “We want to be the first or second in what we do, and we are.”

The merger created a company whose tools handle etch, dielectrics and metallization steps for TSV. Furthermore, Butler reminded us that Bosch first developed the DRIE process on STS tools. “We are the acknowledged experts.” He said. 3D InCites will be paying a visit to the SPTS headquarters next week, so look for more in-depth information coming soon.

R&D Updates
Greg Baker, President and COO of Olympus Integrated Technologies America, updated 3D InCites on the ongoing joint development project with SEMATECH for their 3D metrology program that we first reported on last year. The tool is capable of measuring overlay alignment offsets, and can target in two planes. That way it can measure offsets on the top and backside surface of a bonded wafer pair. Wafers can also be scanned prior to bonding, a defect map of each wafer made, and then rescanned post bond to see if defects are still apparent. An advantage over scanning acoustic microscopy (SAM) is that IR microscopy can detect voids down to 1-2µm.

Thus far, the collaboration has resulted in three methods for 3D metrology. Software has been integrated, and the next step is to make it fully automated. By Baker’s estimation the company will be fully ready to deliver a 3D metrology system by the end of the year.

Frank Sauk, program manager for Presto Engineering, spoke with 3D InCites about the company’s foray into the 3DR test arena. “It’s going to be real, and it’s going to be big. So we want to play a role,” he explained. The company specializes in failure analysis and reliability using laser-based techniques, scan test and X-ray, and was founded by an ST Micro and NXP alumnus, Cedric Mayer.

The goal is to perform electrical tests to understand the route cause. Presto is involved in a common lab with Leti. They’ve created a test vehicle by stacking 3 65nm ST network processor chips into a FA package that will be used to perform non-destructive tests. Results are expected in the next 3-6 months. We’ll check back then.