Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Polyset Company have developed a new inexpensive, quick-drying polymer that could lead to dramatic cost savings and efficiency gains in semiconductor manufacturing and computer chip packaging. The compatibility with lithography (the current process for making computer chips) and nanoimprinting (a likely future method of computer chip making with smaller features) with the same material will allow for easier, more flexible and cheaper development of future computer chips.
Chip manufacturers will be able to trim several steps from their production and packaging processes.
The widely adopted technique of photolithography involves using a mix of light and chemicals to generate intricate micro- and nano-scale patterns on tiny areas of silicon. As part of the process, a thin polymer film – called a redistribution layer, and crucial to the effectiveness of device – is deposited onto the silicon wafer, in order to ease the signal propagation delay and to protect the chip from different environmental and mechanical factors. Their new PES material can also be used as a thin polymer film for ultraviolet (UV) on-chip nanoimprinting lithography technology, which is still in the early phases of development.
PES cures, or dries and hardens, at 165 degrees Celsius, about 35 percent cooler than the other two materials. The need for less heat should translate directly into lower overhead costs for manufacturers, Lu said. Another advantage of PES is its low water uptake rate of less than 0.2 percent, less than the other materials.