| 2 min read

Surface Stories: A Golden Bonding Opportunity

When most of us think of gold, we think of watches, rings, necklaces and even teeth.

For electronics manufacturer’s, gold is one of the highest quality and most electrically conductive materials used in electrical component manufacturing.

In order to best perform its golden duty as a conductor of electricity, the thin wire must make intimate contact with the circuit board itself. Without this connection, failure is inevitable.

A recent customer and manufacturer of microelectronic components needed a way to guarantee that the bonds created between the gold wire they were using in their microprocessors was maximally bonded to the gold-plated palladium bond pad. Were they able to achieve this?

The Material & Process
The customer was preparing the gold wire bonding surface of a microprocessor by implementing a manual solvent wipe and needed a faster, more reliable means of ensuring uniform surface treatment to maintain a proper bonding surface.


The Problem
As demand for their products was steadily increasing, there was a critical need for a way to know that they were treating the bond pad effectively, which meant knowing how much plasma treatment to use, and then monitoring and controlling that process.

Mechanical testing of the bondline displayed inconsistent results, indicating highly variable degrees of residual contamination remaining on the surface. The solvent wiping process currently in place was creating far too much inconsistency in preparation.


The Business Implications
Like many manufacturers that have come before them, this customer was struggling with a key hangup in their process development. Overcoming their issues would lead to a new level of certainty in their operation and growth in their business.

Simply put, solving this problem was paramount to continued success.


The Organizational Implications
The customer’s main concern was not so much that plasma treatment was effective--this would be a secondary benefit of using the Surface Analyst--but knowing that the process they’re pursuing to implement would work for their material system.

This means that on an organizational level, they would be able to move forward with the implementation of an expensive but presumed-to-be effective process that would allow them to scale their operation.

Understanding that they could tailor the use of plasma to best suit their choice of materials in manufacturing, was cause for excitement and an immediate increase in company morale and confidence.


The Solution
Through working closely with guidance from the lab team, the customer was guided along the path of discovery using a precise and multi-faceted approach that was tailored to their unique application.

We were able to successfully show that plasma treatment of the wire bond pad lowered the contact angle measurement substantially, meaning the gold-coated surface was responsive to the treatment and optimally ready for bonding.

Furthermore, in unison with wire ball shear testing, we were able to provide the customer with physical proof through a process widely used and accepted in their industry to determine the optimal levels of plasma treatment.

The customer officially had gained the certainty and precision they had lacked for so long, and were now able to continue to monitor their bond quality, along with examining other in-house processes across various product lines.



Have a similar product or process? Interested in learning how the Surface Analyst can help you in your material system? Contact Us using the form below and start the journey to discovering your best process!