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Aug 26th, 2008
 
Ziptronix Pioneering 3D Integrated Circuit Process Technology
 
Founded in October 2000, Ziptronix , spun out of North Carolina's RTI International for the purpose of commercializing wafer and die bonding technology. Ziptronix has been a pioneer when it comes to 3D IC integration. Ziptronix licenses its processes for both development and production partnerships
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Direct Bond Interconnects from Ziptronix DBI® process
Direct Bond Interconnects from Ziptronix DBI® process
Ziptronix was clearly one of the first companies addressing the technology needs of the developing 3D IC marketplace. CEO Daniel Donabedian  indicates that  the company was ahead of its time when it comes to 3D processing "We were just to early” he said. “However, now things appear to be catching fire, we believe we have the reliable, low COO bonding solution the industry is looking for and we will be addressing that point publicly in the next few months.” he concluded.

Sanders sees the market entering into a rapid growth phase and reports that lots of interest in the Ziptronix ZiBond™ and  DBI® technologies is coming from several major foundries, IDMs and OSATS. In addition, strong motivation  is also coming from CMOS image sensors manufacturers as many of them are moving to backside illumination architectures and thus require low temperature oxide bonding technology like ZiBond™ to make their backside imaging technology work effectively.

Ziptronix' US and foreign patent portfolio includes direct bond and 3D device, circuit, integration and packaging technologies. Enquist points out that the ZiBond™ process is completed at room temperature, with no residual stresses. The mechanical wafer preparation is based on a standard chemical-mechanical polish, which then enables many material combinations to be bonded directly. the resulting bond strength typically exceeds the fracture strength of the bonded bulk material.

Donabedian indicates that the company has developed a significant worldwide patent portfolio covering the basic concepts behind commercially feasible low temperature oxide bonding. Due to the broad and fundamental nature of Ziptronix patent's portfolio, he believes that any use of an oxide low temperature bonding process is highly likely to be covered by one or more of patents from the company. While there are commercial tools that support low temperature oxide bonding processes, Ziptronix has not granted, nor does it intend to grant any licenses under it’s IP to the manufacturers of this equipment. "Anyone running a low temperature oxide bonding process as part of their manufacturing scheme is likely to be infringing on our IP” he said.
 
Technology details
DBI® Technology: Process flow details <br>(Courtesy of Ziptronix)
DBI® Technology: Process flow details
(Courtesy of Ziptronix)
Ziptronix DBI® (direct bond interconnect) technology (see related figure) uses CMP to expose metal patterns embedded in the silicon oxide surface of each chip. When the silicon oxide and metal connection points of each chip are aligned and bonded using the company's ZiBond™; room temperature direct oxide bonding technology, the alignment is preserved, as opposed to other bonding techniques that require heat and/or pressure as part of the bonding process resulting in potential misalignment. The oxide bonding is characterized by a very high bond energy between the surfaces, which brings the metal contact points close to each other to form effective electrical connections between chips.

The DBI® process has had somewhat of a shroud of mystery around it. "Up to now we have restricted the release of DBI® process details to select collaborators in an early adopter evaluation program...due to the success of these evaluations we will be making a more public release this fall....at the RTI 3D Conference in Burlingame CA in November and the MRS meeting in Boston this December you will be seeing additional process and materials details on DBI®.” Enquist noted.

Ziptronix operates an in-house foundry dedicated to process verification and prototyping for customers. Sanders indicates that “ Our full clean room fab allows us to provide a full range of 3D IC fabrication, wafer level packaging, and testing services aimed at supporting process development and prototyping activities of our customers. By taking advantage of our prototyping services, customers can rapidly validate designs and accelerate the path to qualification and volume production.” To further expedite production, Ziptronix' prototyping facility is complemented by volume production support through third party, merchant foundry partners.
 
3D IC Alliance
Ziptronix is a founding member of the 3DIC Alliance, a consortium of integrated circuit designers, developers, and manufacturers. Its objective is to promote standards for three-dimensional integrated circuits (3D ICs) in order to accelerate their availability and acceptance. The 3D alliance has recently produced the first published standard, the Intimate Memory Interconnect Standard (IMIS™), which defines a high-bandwidth vertical bus implemented on the faces of a memory device and a host device so that, when stacked and bonded, the two devices act as a single integrated circuit. This standard lays the cornerstone for memory-to-logic 3D integration and establishes a basis for future collaborative efforts in the industry. (Website: http://3D-IC.org )

Sanders concludes: “Ziptronix provides the lowest COO, synergistic and manufacturable 3D integration wafer bonding solution including embedded electrical interconnect on the market today. Our technology is protected by a series of patents and applications which provide additional value for our licensees in their specific applications and /or markets. In certain applications, low temperature oxide covalent bonding is the only way to significantly impact the product roadmap allowing companies to leapfrog competitors and return significant value to shareholders. Bottom line is that “tomorrow” is here today regarding 3D integration and Ziptronix is leading the way in W2W and C2W bonding.”
 
Daniel L. Donabedian, CEO & President
Mr. Donabedian is a high tech executive with twelve years of semiconductor experience. Recently, he was in a start up role with Microelectronics Assembly Technologies (M.A.T.) as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Prior to this position, he rose through sales and sales management positions, advancing to President and CEO of Elpida Memory USA a $1.1 billion, high-tech sales–driven organization. During his rapid rise, he has won and kept key accounts, opened new markets and channels, and cemented solid C-level relationships with Fortune 500 customers. He led sales and marketing of memory devices into all major OEM digital consumer, mobile, and server markets in North and South America. In prior years, Mr. Donabedian worked for the United States Air Force on the Milstar Satellite Communications Program as a Manufacturing and Quality Program Manager. Mr. Donabedian earned his Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and his Master of Arts in Business Administration at Framingham State College.


Dr. Paul Enquist, CTO and VP of Research & Development
Dr. Enquist has more than 20 years experience developing and inventing semiconductor process technologies, including 3D Symmetric Intrinsic device fabrication and 3D integrated circuit fabrication core to the Ziptronix’ process. Prior to joining Ziptronix, Dr. Enquist spent nearly 15 years with RTI International. He has authored more than 60 publications and presentations related to the epitaxial growth and fabrication of Npn, Pnp, and complementary HBTs, lasers and integration, and has over 20 issued US Patents. Dr. Enquist holds a Ph.D. and a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University.and Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from Columbia University.


Christopher Sanders, Director of Business Development
Mr. Sanders has been responsible for developing commercial business from government and commercially funded research for over 9 years and has over 17 years of experience in technology sales. Prior to joining Ziptronix, Mr. Sanders was employed as Sales Development and Commercialization Manager at RTI International. He played a key role in the spinout and sale of Cronos, a MEMS company, to JDSU for $580M and has since been responsible for developing commercial licensing agreements and R&D contracts generating over $40M in new and future revenue. Before beginning his career in Sales & Business Development, Mr. Sanders held a Lead Mechanical and Spacecraft Engineer role with GE Astrospace. He holds a B.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering from North Carolina State University and is currently a member of LES (Licensing Executive Society), an international professional licensing organization. Mr. Sanders also holds a current private pilots license.

 
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