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Chip Scale Review September • October • 2018


the successful creating of planar

embedded RDL structures without

CMP, as described later in this article.

Excimer laser ablation patter ning

provides a unique flexibility not available

i n o t he r pa t t e r n i ng me t hod s , a nd

this f lexibility turns out to be critical

i n mak i ng th is process successf ul.

This ablation process is available and

validated for a variety of substrates,

including panels.

Dielectric for embedded conductor


As ment ioned above, t he u s e of

ablation patterning permits a choice

of dielectric that is not restricted to

phot os en sit ive mat e r ia l s. For t h i s

work, we used FCPi-2100 polyimide

from Fujifilm Electronic Materials. It

exhibits excellent physical, thermal,

electrical and chemical properties for

this application, as shown in

Table 1


The thermal stability is illustrated in

Figure 5

, showing negligible change in

patterned feature size with baking. The

thermal expansion coefficient can be

modified to match a variety of substrates,

including panels. It has also been shown

to be compatible with a wide variety of

solvents, acids and bases, including those

that are likely to be encountered in the

process flow.


Metallization involves two separate

processes: vacuum deposition of a seed

layer, and electroplating to fill the vias

and trenches.

Seed layer deposition.

The seed layer

provides a current path to a contact at

the edge of the wafer or panel during the

plating process. However, it serves the

equally critical function of providing

a d he s ion b e t we e n t he u nde r l y i ng

polyimide surface and the conductors,

which will be plated. Without good

adhesion, delamination of the conducting

lines and vias may occur after plating or

during downstream process steps.

For this process, the seed layer was

deposited using a TEL NEXX Apollo

PVD tool. Adhesion was guaranteed

by the use of an Ar-based inductively

coupled pl a sma ( ICP) e t ch befo r e

deposition to clean and activate the

polyimide surface, and by depositing the

Ti and Cu in the same chamber with no

break in vacuum.


In previous versions

of the embedded conductor process,

CMP is required to remove excess metal

deposited in the electroplating step.

So, to eliminate CMP it is necessary to

minimize the excess metal to the point

where it is possible to remove it by

simpler methods.

Us i n g a mo d i f i e d ve r s i o n o f a

commercial TSV plating chemistr y,

an efficient bottom-up plating process

was developed (

Figures 6



). This

process can fill trenches 6µm deep with

overburden less than 0.5µm.

We can beg i n t o u nde r st and t he

mechanism for bottom-up filling in this

case in terms of TSV plating, although

there are important differences, as we

shall see. A TSV plating chemist r y

i ncl ud e s t h r e e o r g a n i c a dd i t i ve s:

an accelerator, which catalyzes the

deposition reaction; a leveler, which

strongly inhibits this reaction; and a

suppressor, which moderates the surface

kinetics of the two other species. In TSV

plating, bottom-up filling is achieved

because the leveler, which is a slower-

diffusing molecule, is initially present

in a much smaller concentration at the

bottom of the via than at the top surface.

So, the plating deep within the via is

dominated by the accelerator, while

plating is suppressed on the top surface

and the upper parts of the sidewall.

For embedded conductor structures,

the diffusion distances are a few microns

at most, and aspect ratios are 1:1 or less.

So, segregation of the leveler purely

due to diffusion does not appear likely.

However, the increase in effective surface

area presented to the solution, from the

sidewalls of the ablated features and the

Figure 5:

Thermal stability of FCPi-2100 (Fujifilm

Electronic Materials).

Table 1:

Properties of FCPi-2100 polyimide (Fujifilm

Electronic Materials).

Figure 6:

2–3μm trenches filled using a bottom-up

plating process.

Figure 7:

Surface evolution during plating showing

bottom-up trench fill.

Figure 8:

Illustration of the “leveler depletion”

hypothesis to explain bottom-up plating:

a) initial state, b) at start of plating, c) leveler and

accelerator concentrations adjust, and d) steady-state

plating condition. The suppressor is not shown here.