Title page for ETD etd-05142012-135347

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Zheng, Hanguang
Author's Email Address hgzheng@vt.edu
URN etd-05142012-135347
Title Processing and Properties of Die-attachment on Copper Surface by Low-temperature Sintering of Nanosilver Paste
Degree Master of Science
Department Materials Science and Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Lu, Guo-Quan Committee Chair
Guido, Louis J. Committee Member
Ngo, Khai D. T. Committee Member
  • Microstructure
  • Cu surface
  • Sintering
  • Die-shear strength
  • Die-attachment
  • Low-temperature joining technique
  • Nanosilver paste
Date of Defense 2012-04-16
Availability restricted
As the first level interconnection in electronic packages, chip attachment plays a key role in the total packaging process. Sintered nanosilver paste may be used as a lead-free alternative to solder for die-attachment at sintering temperature below 300 °C without applying any pressure. Typically, the substrate, such as direct bond copper (DBC) substrates, has surface metallization such as silver or gold to protect the copper surface from oxidation during the sintering process. This study focused on developing techniques for die-attachment on pure copper surface by low-temperature sintering of nanosilver paste. One of the difficulties lies in the need for oxygen to burn off the organics in the paste during sintering. However, the copper surface would oxidize, preventing the formation of a strong bond between sintered silver and copper substrate.

Two approaches were investigated to develop a feasible technique for attachment. The first approach was to reduce air pressure as a means of varying the oxygen partial pressure and the second approach was to introduce inert gas to control the sintering atmosphere. For the first method, die-shear tests showed that increasing the oxygen partial pressure (PO2) from 0.04 atm to 0.14 atm caused the bonding strength to increase but eventually decline at higher partial pressure. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) analysis showed that there was insufficient oxygen for complete organics burnout at low PO2 condition, while the copper surface was heavily oxidized at high PO2 levels, thus preventing strong bonding. A maximum bonding strength of about average 8 MPa was attained at about PO2 = 0.08 atm. With the second method, the die-shear strength showed a significant increase to about 24 MPa by adjusting the oxygen exposure temperature and time during sintering.

The processing conditions necessary for bonding large-area chips (6 mm × 6 mm) directly on pure copper surface by sintering nanosilver paste was also investigated. A double-print process with an applied sintering pressure of less than 5 MPa was developed. Die-shear test of the attached chips showed an average bonding strength of over 40 MPa at applied pressure of 3 MPa and over 77 MPa under 12 MPa sintering pressure. SEM imaging of the failure surface showed a much denser microstructure of sintered silver layer when pressure was applied. X-ray imaging showed a bond layer almost free of voids. Because the samples were sintered in air, the DBC surface showed some oxidation. Wirebondability test of the oxidized surface was performed with 250 μm-diameter aluminum wires wedge-bonded at different locations on the oxidized surface. Pull test results of the bonded wires showed a minimum pull-strength of 400 gram-force, exceeding the minimum of 100-gf required by the IPC-TM-650 test standard.

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