A Study of Surface Finishes for IC Substrates and Wire Bond Applications
Authors: Ernest Long PhD and Lenora Toscano Company: MacDermid Date Published: 4/18/2012
Abstract: The continuing drive for ever increasing performance enhancement in the electronics industry, in combination with the recent, very significant increase in precious metal costs have left fabricators and OEMs questioning what the best, most cost effective, surface finish is for high reliability applications. Currently, the IC substrate market relies heavily on electrolytic nickel and gold as a solderable and superior wire bondable surface. The use of this finish has allowed manufacturers to avoid the reliability concerns associated with traditional electroless nickel/immersion gold processes, however, this choice also results in significant design restraints being imposed. Many in the industry are now investigating the use of electroless nickel/electroless palladium/immersion gold (ENEPIG) to achieve both high reliability and performance, without the negative design restraints imparted by the use of electrolytic processes. However, over the last year alone, the industry has watched the price of gold increase by 50% and that of palladium double . With this in mind, and considering the historic precedent set in the mid 1990’s when ENEPIG was also evaluated as a surface finish for printed circuit boards, when coincidentally, the cost of palladium also reached an all time high, it should be remembered that the electronics industry quickly moved to evaluate alternate, more cost sustainable, surface finishes. This paper details the use of lower cost, alternate surface finishes for IC substrate applications, with particular experimental focus on gold wire bonding capabilities and BGA solderability of the finishes described. The paper also discusses related process cycle advantages and the significantly reduced operating costs associated with these new finishes.