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26 March 2014

Reworking Underfilled Flip Chips

Posted in Published Articles

by Don Moore, President, Semiconductor Equipment Corporation
by Gloria Studley, Design Engineer, Semiconductor Equipment Corp.
Moorpark, CA
US Tech, July/August 2000

Flip chip assembly technology is poised to gain greatly increased acceptance in the electronics industry thanks to the introduction of the new reworkable underfill materials from such companies as Loctite, Emerson & Cuming and IBM.  Like their underfill predecessors, the new formulations create a uniform and void-free underfill layer that protects the active surface of the die while improving the reliability performance of flip chip devices by distributing stress away from the solder interconnects.

The new materials provide the processing and reliability capabilities of conventional underfills with the added advantage of rework ability.  They are specifically designed to minimize the need to scrap entire boards with high cost devices bonded on them because testing has determined that a flip chip is defective.

With development of these new formulations at or near completion and their commercialization underway, now the work involving these new formulations shifts to designing and perfecting equipment and techniques.  The goal: to be able to physically remove the offending flip chip that is underfilled with one of the new reworkable materials and replace it with a good one.

In responding to the development of these reworkable underfills, some manufacturers of surface mount rework stations are trying to convert their machines for flip chip placement capability in order to capitalize on the new market potential for flip chip rework.  These machines suffer from the fact that they were designed to handle large circuit boards and large components and, as such, lack the fine precision capability that's needed when working with flip chips.  They do not provide the finely controlled spot heating, viewing magnifications and precision bond load that are needed.  The equipment also tends to have large footprints, and is very expensive.  In essence, these designs have been influenced by soldering rather than microelectronic considerations.  There are also other equipment issues with the use of these surface mount rework machine conversions, which we will get into a little later.

Semiconductor Equipment Corporation, a flip chip bonder manufacturer, is taking a different approach.  The company has developed rework attachment option (Model 870) for its low cost ($30,000) standard Model 850 flip chip bonder.  The company's new rework option sells for about $9000.  This approach gives the user a less expensive alternative to equipment purchase while providing all the capabilities for precision placement required for flip chip replacement and underfilling with the new materials.

Model 850 Flip Chip Bonder - Semicorp.com  
Figure 1: S.E.C. Model 850 Flip Chip Bonderwith accompanying Model 870 hot gas rework profiler designed for use with flip chips underfilled with new reworkable formulations.  

The Rework Process
The rework process begins with heating the substrate evenly to a temperature below the melting point of solder.  The chip undergoing rework is then spot heated to melt the solder connections and break down the underfill.  The chip is gripped mechanically and then twisted or sheared away from the circuit.  Any residual solder and underfill are cleaned off the substrate.  Once cleanup of the substrate is complete, a new chip can be aligned, bonded, reflowed, and underfilled.  To successfully remove the defective flip chip from the substrate, the process needs to be compatible with the assembled board and the components attached to it.  It requires a machine that is equipped with a stage for bottom-side heating of the substrate-one that can be heated up to 200°, with the most common temperature range being 125° to 150°C.  The stage should also have a hold-down device for the substrate during removal of the chip.  Note that in those cases where the substrate is fragile or exceptionally thin such as with PC cards-custom fixturing may be required.  The substrate holder needs to be of solid design to completely support the substrate, but not the "universal" design found on most surface mount rework systems.  These are almost like a big vise for holding boards that measure two inches square and up to over a foot square.  These "universal" holders fail to hold the substrate flat.

Spot Heating System
To heat the top of the chip, the machine needs to have a spot heating system that can be easily positioned over the chip and that will confine any heating of the substrate to the flip chip's site.  The heating system needs to be accommodate die from 1 to 30mm².  The temperature needs to be maintained by a controller that can be store and run thermal profiles.

Much of S.E.C.'s development work was done using the Model 430 profiler which is being incorporated into the S.E.C. 870 rework attachment.  The S.EC. rework attachment features a movable (up and down) interchangeable hot gas jet nozzle that delivers precise, stable gas flow rates (600°C max.) to a specific area as well as a temperature controller for running thermal profiles which can be controlled and saved on the controller.  For graphic presentation of profiles, a separate computer and monitor are used.  The profiler reproduces the same thermal cycling used during initial reflow of the flip chip via an oven.  Using the S.E.C. regimen, hot gas is applied to the rework site for less than 30 seconds with a gas temperature of approximately 450°C at a flow rate of approximately 3 liters per minute.  The key to precisely heating a flip chip is to use a fairly high gas temperature at a fairly low flow rate.

fter the defective chip has been heated, it is ready to be removed.  Our initial development plans called for putting a specially designed pneumatic chip grabber on the company's Model 870 rework attachment - one that would be adjustable to accommodate different chip sizes that would give support to the chip to prevent damage during the removal process.  A prototype of such a device was made that would provide the torque necessary to break the fillet's adhesion to the board.  This is especially important, since current vacuum type systems do not have enough hold to remove the chips.  However, in trials carried out at S.E.C. on samples provided by manufactures of the new reworkable underfill materials, it was determined that such a grabbing tool was cumbersome and slow to operate and that, instead, a hand tool worked just fine for removing the chip from the substrate.

A hand tool will in fact suffice for all flip chips currently in use, and such use is in line with techniques that have been employed for years in hybrid microelectronics rework to repair epoxy - bonded die.

Site Redressing Requirements
Cleanup after chip removal is required to remove any underfill residue and excess solder on the substrate.  This must be done without damaging the pads and adjacent components on the substrate.  A microscope on the Model 870 attachment facilitates viewing the area undergoing rework.  It can also be utilized for precise alignment of the spot heating nozzle to the chip prior to removal.

Various methods have been examined for redressing the site.  In working with the manufacturers of the new reworkable underfills, we found that in their underfill development work they had tried using, among other things, a Dremmel tool equipped with a stiff horsehair flattened brush to mechanically remove the adhesive residue from the die site.  These manufactures had tested several different types of brush styles and materials - including pig's hair - in arriving at their selection of this brush.  The brush needed to be held so as to exert a minimum amount of pressure on the board, and moved slowly across the die site to allow removal of all residual adhesive, concentrating first on the fillet - which had the greatest amount of adhesive - then moving to the center of the die site once the fillet had been cleaned.  Excess brushing increased the chances of board damage.   

Model 870 Gas Nozzle - Semicorp.com  
Figure 2: Close-up view of the gas nozzle on the S.E.C. Model 870 rework attachment delivering hot gas to the top of a defective flip chip underfilled with one of the new reworkable formulations in preparation for its removal.  

Isopropyl alcohol was used to clean the area for ease of inspection.  A Teflon® - tipped vacuum wand for removing excess solder also was tried.  In general, these methods worked reasonably well in redressing the site in preparation for chip replacement.

Eliminating Messy Tools
However, again in trials conducted at S.E.C., it was determined that the method that used the Dremmel tool and brush tended to be somewhat messy; there was some debris still left for cleanup, and over - brushing could occur.  We determined that scraping the softened underfill off the heated substrate with a Teflon tool immediately after the chip is removed is faster and works better.  Such a tool is included with the company's rework attachment.  Regardless of the clean - up method, it is necessary to wick off excess solder and do a final cleaning with the solvent.

The Teflon scraper does not damage the board or pads in any way.  The debris itself comes off in a pliable mass; as it is scraped, it plows up into a pile which can be flicked off or brushed aside, and does not stick to the tool, since it is Teflon.  This technique removes most of the underfill debris.  The remaining solder and underfill are removed by solder wicking, using a hand - held soldering iron and solder wick.  This leaves the site virtually clean and all that is then needed is an application of solvent.

Replacing the Chip
After site cleanup, the substrate is ready for the replacement chip.  In the case of S.E.C.'s offering, this is accomplished using the Model 850 bonder portion of the company's flip chip bonder - rework combination package.  The waffle pack containing new chips is placed on a pedestal which, in turn, is placed on the system's X - Y precision slide table.  A target chip in the waffle pack is manually aligned to the bonder's vacuum pickup head with the aid of the system's sliding table and extend - retract cube beam splitter viewer.  The viewer is retracted, the pickup cycle is initiated and the head makes contact with the target replacement chip and lifts it from the container.

The chip is then dipped into a flux tray (manual or motorized) that has been placed on the sliding table.  After coating the chip's solder bumps with the bond pads on the substrate located in the micrometer - adjusted X - Y and theta workstage with a 40 x 40 vacuum chuck holds the substrate steady and keeps it co - planar to the chip.

The cube beam splitter viewing system is a vital equipment feature for flip chip bonding, presenting real - time views of the chip's bumps and substrate bond pads superimposed on each other.  Adequate lighting of both the flip chip bumps and bond pads is attained with separate, adjustable fiber optic illuminators.

When alignment has been achieved, the viewer is retracted and the placement cycle is initiated: the chip on the pickup head is automatically lowered onto the bond site under sufficient bond load (50 gm to 2 kilos, depending on size and quantity of bumps on the chip) to properly seat the chip.

The chip's solder bumps are now ready for reflowing, to be followed by underfilling.  Reflow may be accomplished with the 40 x 40 heated stage (capable of 350°C) and hot gas spot heating nozzle system with thermal profiling capability provided on the 870 rework attachment.  Underfilling with new reworkable underfills, or any other formulations for that matter, can be accomplished using one of two methods.  One method, which takes a little practice, is to use a manual dispenser and allow the material to chip placement.

Teflon Tool Scraping - Semicorp.com  
Figure 3: S.E.C. technician using a Teflon tool for scraping the softened underfill off a heated substrate immediately after the defective chip was removed.  

After reflowing and underfilling the assembly is then removed for inspection and testing.  The usual practice is to x - ray the reworked device, subject it to electrical testing or do both.

As appeared in US Tech - July/August 2000