Technological demands for 5G connectivity, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), wearables, and automobiles are key drivers for semiconductor device functionality and performance. In today’s commercial landscape, IDM (integrated device manufacturers) semiconductor suppliers are trying to keep pace with Moore’s Law by actively pursuing the most advanced silicon wafer scaling. Moving to the next technology nodes is not only demanding technologically but also financially. International Test Solutions (ITS) has developed three innovative product families – Chuck Cleaning Wafer (CCW), Probe Card Cleaning (PCC), and Test Contactor Cleaning (TCC) – to address the daily challengesfaced by customers.
Since the inception of the company in 1998, under the aegis of Gene Humphrey, President of ITS, they began working closely with the top microprocessor and memory device semiconductor companies in conjunction with key probe-card suppliers by providing highly engineered cleaning polymers for parametric test and wafer sort operations (PCC). Over the past 20-years, their core intellectual property portfolio of more than 15 domestic and 50 international patents has been focused on materials, devices, and methods for the removal submicron particles. ITS continuous innovations for providing cost savings and net revenue benefits to their customers have led to industry wide recognition as “the cleaning experts”. Keeping up with the technological demands of each advanced semiconductor node change as their customers develop, design, and build the increasingly complex and sensitive devices, the ITS team can identify and implement optimal cleaning solutions that maximize yields. Throughout the development and manufacturing processes, their team draws upon more than 75-years of cumulative engineering experience for wafer fabrication and device testing. “To investigate and solve specific applications issues, we leverage the industry’s foremost cleaning material characterization capabilities within our in-house Center for Cleaning Materials Expertise,” says Dr. Jerry Broz, SVP of Technology Development at ITS who has been actively involved within the test Dr. Jerry Broz, SVP of Technology Development at International Test Solutions Innovative Leaders MARCH 2020 27 industry for more than 25-years. “ITS is uniquely positioned as an experienced partner that provides solutions, insights, and technical know-how.”
" We leverage the industry’s foremost cleaning material characterization capabilities within our inhouse Center for Cleaning Materials Expertise "
To maximize the numbers of silicon wafersbeing produced, IDM simplement various strategies during the highly complex wafer fabrication process to maximize equipment uptime and throughput. Sometimes sub-micron particulate contamination occurs and requires cleaning prior to the scheduled time in order to correct tool failures. If done manually, the equipment downtime resulting from unscheduled maintenance is costly. To enable efficient on-demand and preventative cleaning, ITS developed the CCW which is an innovative turnkey product effective for removing submicron particles that can result in unscheduled maintenance.
Once the integrated circuit (IC) devices are built, the IDMs, foundries, and off-shore assembly and test (OSAT) suppliers rely heavily on wafer-level, device-level, and package-level performance testing. Semiconductor devices are tested using probe-cards and, based on the performance results, the devices are categorized, or “sorted”, into various classifications. “Our PCC products have been engineered to remove and collect adherent contamination from the probe-cards to assure high yields, extend the lifetime, and reduce operator intervention in order to lower the overall cost of test,” adds Jerry.
After the semiconductor devices have been assembled into commercial packages, final test operations are performed using test-sockets, burn-in test sockets, and handlers prior to shipment. The newest ICs require stable electrical connection for test program execution and, of course, any contamination or adherent debris within the socket will dramatically affect the data integrity. Keeping the sockets clean during testing is critical when meeting quality requirements and long-term reliability. For maintaining high first pass yields and maximizing test-socket performance, ITS developed the innovative TCC products which are designed to remove debris and contamination from the test sockets and contactor elements.
During the past couple of years, the ITS Team has been researching ways to further maximize the cleaning performance of their products. “Using innovative manufacturing methods, we have developed a proprietary process for incorporating “structurally functionalized surface features” that provide the next level of optimized cleaning performance,” says Dr. Broz. “By functionalizing the material surface, it is possible to attain the best possible performance for sub-micron particle removal as well as provide consistent, low-force cleaning.”
Towards the Future
In a customer case study for aPCC application, the ITS Team worked closely with an automotive semiconductor device manufacturer. “Our customer was facing inconsistent wafer yields for several of their high value microcontroller devices and the associated cost of test was excessive,” explains Jerry. “Implementation of the ITS probe-card cleaning materialsand optimized practices resulted in a 2 to 4% yield increase combined with a dramatic downtime reduction of approximately 30%.”
For more than 20-years, ITS has maintained a highly experienced technical sales and distribution network in the United States, Europe, South East Asia, and the Pacific-Rim. ITS actively supports customers with theiraward-winning technical services and comprehensive expertise. Recently, ITS has invested heavily in research, product development, and the manufacturing operations in Reno, Nevada. For the near future, ITS is focused on innovative technology, industry-leading R&D investment, and continuously evolving capabilities as well as a maintaining a deep understanding of most advanced customer application requirements
Gene Humphrey, President
For more than 20-years, International Test Solutions has been the leading global supplier of highly engineered cleaning materials supporting the semiconductor and package test industry.