editor's blog
Subscribe Now

Room-Temp Covalent Wafer Bonding

MEMS elements are delicate. They sit there in their little cavities, expecting to operate in some sort of controlled environment – perhaps a particular gas or pressure (or lack of it). And if they’re collocated with CMOS circuitry, then they need to be protected from any further processing steps. In other words, they need to be sealed off from the rest of the world. And wafer bonding is a common way to do that: bring another wafer (perhaps with etched features) face-to-face with the working wafer and get them to bond.

Covalent molecular bonds are the strongest; if you bring two silicon wafers together, for example, the ideal is to have the silicon atoms at the surface of each wafer bond covalently with their counterparts on the other wafer so that the whole thing starts to look like a continuous crystal. That’s the ideal.

Doing this isn’t trivial, of course, since the surfaces are likely to have imperfections and contaminants. So surface preparation has been an important part of the wafer bonding process. It has also involved intermediaries like water that establish a preliminary bond; an anneal then precipitates the reactions that result in the appropriate covalent bonds and out-diffusion of any extraneous elements.

Initially, high temperatures were required for the annealing. But, of course, anything over 450 °C won’t sit well with any CMOS that might be in place, so various surface preparation techniques have been devised to get the anneal temps down below that threshold.

But even these temperatures can be an issue for bonding unlike materials, or for wafers that have unlike materials in the stack, where stresses can result from differing rates of thermal expansion during the anneal process.

EVG has recently announced a new way of preparing the surface so that covalent bonding occurs immediately, at room temperature. To be clear, they have announced that they have this new process; they haven’t announced what it is; they’re still being coy on that. This eliminates the annealing step completely, and therefore the thermal expansion issue as well.

Equipment using this new technique should ship sometime this year. You can find out more in their release.

Leave a Reply

featured blogs
Jan 27, 2020
Everybody writing software wants it to perform according to its specification and to be reliable. I hope that this is a safe assumption. There are 3 things to be done to achieve these goals: design well; implement carefully; test thoroughly. None of these are optional. A care...
Jan 27, 2020
I see switches everywhere: toggle switches, slider switches, rotary switches, pushbutton switches, magnetic switches, reed switches, mercury switches, smart switches, and'€¦ the list goes on....
Jan 24, 2020
[From the last episode: We looked at the different ways memory can be organized in different kinds of systems.] Let'€™s look at a scenario: you run a restaurant, but you'€™re short on funds to hire people. So you'€™re your own chief cook and bottle-washer. You do everyt...
Jan 23, 2020
Embedded design trends typically revolve around three main ideas: faster data rates, smaller form factors and cost-effective solutions. Those design trends drive the theme for the 2020 Embedded Tech Trends forum: The Business and Technology Forum for Critical and Intelligent ...

Featured Video

Automotive Trends Driving New SoC Architectures -- Synopsys

Sponsored by Synopsys

Today’s automotive trends are driving new design requirements for automotive SoCs targeting ADAS, gateways, connected cars and infotainment. Find out why it is essential to use pre-designed, pre-verified, reusable automotive-optimized IP to meet such new requirements and accelerate design time.

Drive Your Next Design to Completion Today with DesignWare IP® for Automotive SoCs