A challenge for semiconductor wafer testing: Heraeus now offers ultrafine testing wires with six-fold conductivity for maximum production yield in the very latest microprocessors

Hanau, May 7, 2019

Technological advance in for the semiconductor industry: With up to six-fold conductivity and a diameter reduced by 50 percent, the new testing wires made of a rhodium alloy from Heraeus Precious Metals surpass the standard materials for quality control in the semiconductor industry. The technology group is thereby introducing a new dimension of quality assurance in microprocessor fabrication.

The employee at the fine wire drawing machine checks the position of the drawing die for the straightness of the probing wire
The employee at the fine wire drawing machine checks the position of the drawing die for the straightness of the probing wire

With up to six-fold conductivity and a diameter reduced by 50 percent, the new testing wires made of a rhodium alloy from Heraeus Precious Metals surpass the standard materials for quality control in the semiconductor industry. The technology group is thereby introducing a new dimension of quality assurance in microprocessor fabrication.

The ultrafine wires from Heraeus Precious Metals in Hanau can be used even when standard wires have long reached their limits. The manufacturers of probe cards for the semiconductor and electronics industry need this wire to fabricate needles for testing semiconductor wafers. They must adapt their probe cards to meet the challenges of progressive miniaturization.

More than two- to six-fold conductivity

The key characteristics of a good testing wire are its electrical conductivity, hardness and thin geometry. In regard to conductivity, the innovations from Hanau surpass the alloys available on the market. The conductivity of the Heraeus products is greater than 30 percent IACS, while that of conventional wires is only 5 to 14 percent IACS. The wires are elastic while exhibiting high mechanical strength even at high temperatures, and as a result, they can be used for many load cycles. Depending on need, the technology group uses different precious metals, such as palladium, platinum and rhodium, to make straight wires on spools or as wire rods.

Up to 50 percent finer than the standard

Quality control is the core element of semiconductor production. A single wafer contains as many as several hundred semiconductor chips, and every single one must be tested for 100 percent functionality. Because of the continual miniaturization of the transistors on a chip and the accompanying increase in the number of transistors per chip, ever thinner probe needles are necessary in the narrowest of spaces. At present, this means up to 30,000 on an area the size of a postage stamp. The new wires from Heraeus are less than 20 thousandths of a millimeter (µm) in diameter, which is only about one quarter the thickness of a human hair and up to 50 percent finer than standard wires. As a result, they make it possible to set new standards for quality control in semiconductor production.

“Our new testing wires are high-performance materials. They offer our customers entirely new possibilities for quality assurance in microprocessor fabrication, thereby strengthening their pole position,” explains André Christl, president of Heraeus Precious Metals. “The new chip technologies in mobile communications – such as the current 5G – are presenting the manufacturers of smartphones and tablets with a growing need for more powerful and ever smaller chips. Heraeus aims to tap this business potential with our customers in Asia, the USA and Europe.”

Heraeus will present its new testing wires at the Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop (SWTW) in San Diego, USA, June 2 to 5, 2019.

Manufacturing products for the semiconductor and telecommunications industry requires precision, experience, and materials and process expertise, along with the appropriate hardware. Heraeus has led the way in the production of ultrafine wire for more than 50 years. Specialty wire from Hanau is used in airbags, for example. Electrical sliding contacts are likewise a component of the product portfolio. In addition, Heraeus has decades of experience in producing high-purity quartz glass for optical fibers for the semiconductor and telecommunications industry.

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