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Better "Flip Chips" Will Benefit Wireless PCS, Hand-held PC Systems

Oct 8, 1998

Santa Clara, CA, October 8, 1998 -- National Semiconductor CorporationÒ has been chosen by the US government's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to lead a chip-packaging research program to create a new fast-curing, reworkable encapsulant or underfill material. National Semiconductor will also lead an effort to develop a wafer-wide deposition process that significantly cuts process time and reduces material and processing costs.

National leads the three-year, $5.7 million, cost-shared program with National Starch and Chemical (Bridgewater, NJ) as joint-venture partner. The Packaging Research Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA) will characterize materials developed. The program is called the Novel High-performance Wafer-level Reworkable Underfill Materials for Flip-chip Packaging, and is a part of NIST's Advanced Technology Program.

"This research program promises to cut wafer processing time, reduce curing from hours to minutes, and give the semiconductor industry a 50 to 75 percent reduction in packaging costs," said Gobi Padmanabhan, National Semiconductor's senior vice president for technology, research and development. "It should make flip-chip packages even better solutions for wireless systems, global positioning systems, and personal computers. Today, conventional packages are limited by the number of I/O leads they can accommodate. As chips become faster and more integrated, flip-chip packaging offers a compelling alternative because of superior cost and density characteristics," he said.

Current epoxy-based underfill materials, applied at the individual package level, take so long to process that they become a bottleneck for high-volume production. The new materials to be developed are novel polymer compounds that expand current epoxy-based chemistry for flip chip underfills and exhibit superior properties such as fast curing, low ionic contamination, high moisture resistance, and reworkability.

New encapsulant materials are expected to provide better bonds for flip-chip packages to a substrate on a printed circuit board. In addition, the research will create ways to deposit that material across the whole wafer in one pass before individual chips are separated from the wafer. This batch processing of entire wafers will be faster and more cost-effective than encapsulating each packaged chip individually as is done now. Currently, less than 1 percent of integrated circuits produced are flip chip devices. However, in the next five years, this number is expected to reach 10 percent, making it imperative to reduce production cycle times.

This is the second 1998 NIST program for National. The company is also leading a broad industry/university consortium to develop technologies that significantly boost chip yields and reduce cost per function. This three-year, $18.63 million program is to improve the efficiency and interaction among measurement tools, production equipment and operating software.

About National Semiconductor

National Semiconductor provides system-on-a-chip solutions for the information age. Combining real-world analog and state-of the-art digital technology, the company's chips lead many sectors of the personal computer, communications, and consumer markets. With headquarters in Santa Clara, California, National has annual sales of approximately $2.5 billion and 12,000 employees worldwide. Additional company and product information is available on the World Wide Web at www.national.com.