What better place for the Queen of 3D to start out her Europe in 3D tour than a late lunch at the Crown Inn, in Colchester, Essex UK? I arrived in London on Monday afternoon, January 12, and was greeted by 3D InCites’ own Nick Richardson, business development manager (and unofficial court jester). We climbed aboard the chariot (aka Citroen Picasso) and headed to Colchester, UK to get our bearings, check in, and prepare for our visit to Nordson DAGE. Colchester is Britain’s oldest recorded town, and looks the part at its center, with brick cottages and ancient pubs. It also offers a number of industrial parks, which is where we found Nordson’ DAGE’s R&D facility. Our visit was based here, rather than the Aylesbury company headquarters, because it’s where Nordson DAGE’s latest achievement has been developed: the XM8000 Wafer X-ray Metrology Platform, set to launch next week at the European 3D TSV Summit (January 21-22, 2014). 3D InCites was offered an exclusive sneak peek.
I know what you’re thinking, did you say X-ray for wafer metrology? That’s right. While X-ray has been used for years in the advanced packaging world for defect detection, this is the first time it has been applied for measurement and defect review of wafers, and specifically in this case for measuring and detection of both optically hidden and visible features of TSVs, 2.5D and 3D IC packages, MEMS and wafer bumps.
Nordson DAGE’s welcoming committee included David Bernard, business manager, automated X-ray systems, whom I have been acquainted with since my Advanced Packaging magazine days, as well as Philip Moyse, program manager, automated X-ray inspection systems; John Tingay, technical director; and Will Heeley, applications engineer, who spent the better part of the day educating Nick and me on the company history and latest achievements. The company has made quite a name for itself in the advanced packaging realm as the leader in bond testers, which segued into the X-ray inspection arena in 2000 as a way to leverage its existing customer base and fill a perceived industry need. This technology-led approach is also what brought them to leverage their X-ray expertise into metrology for wafer bumping and TSVs.
What DAGE has done with the introduction of the XM8000, explained Bernard, is find a new purpose for X-ray technology. Rather than “look-see” inspection, it is intended for metrology of wafer bump and TSV applications. It enables automatic measurement of bumps and outputs detailed data rather than merely images.
The push to develop this new platform – not to be confused as just another addition to an established product line – was the realization that a number of customers were already using DAGE technology to perform tasks it wasn’t intended for – mainly defect detection such as voids in wafer bumps and Cu filled TSVs – at the R&D level. They wanted an automated system that was configured specifically for these tasks, and they wanted it for use in a production environment, and Nordson DAGE has delivered.
Our visit included a tour of the development workshop where Nordson DAGE’s jewel-range product line, including the Diamond, are lined up and used to test the new software. We were shown a demo of how the tool can perform measurement of the overlay of an interposer and die, aligning to the tracks on the interposer to Cu bumps.
We also got a peek at the two prototype tools. While the new platform is based on X-ray technologies that has rendered the Diamond the gem of the Nordson DAGE product line (this is the tool the R&D customers were using for purposes other than was intended – detecting defects in wafer bumps and TSVs), it has required more than just adding a top-of-the-line Brooks Automation handling system. According to Moyse, the architecture of the tool itself had to be redesigned to position the detector under the sample, for both cleanliness purposes and to bring the wafer closer to the tube for better magnification and higher resolution. Essentially, Nordson DAGE has figured out a way to measure the invisible. There’s a lot more to tell, so look for an in-depth report coming soon.
In the mean time, the Europe in 3D tour continues. After taking leave of Nordson DAGE, Nick deposited me back at Heathrow where I caught a late flight to Munich. Today’s visit will be to Fraunhofer EMFT in Munich, where I hope to learn more about the work Peter Ramm is doing with 3D systems integration. Stay tuned! ~ F.v.T.