Development of MEMS RF semiconductor test probe

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

All semi-condutor devices are tested, while on the wafer, with the use of fine-pitch probe needles to confirm their electrical performance. The needle connects the semiconductor integrated circuit (IC) to a test system via a probe card. The needles need to connect all the inputs and outputs (I/Os) of the IC and are therefore required for DC power, low frequency and high frequency data connections. The 5G, fifth generation, mobile network is under development and will increase the demand on semiconductor testing to frequencies unto 100 GHz. The ICs for 5G systems will required fine-pitched I/Os to allow them to be housed compactly in a phone. This requires fine-pitch high frequency (RF) capable semiconductor probe-needles.
This project will perform the necessary early stage development of a fine-pitch RF probe needle, based on the fine-pitch DC probe needle manufacturing technology developed in an STFC IPS grant, coupled with the expertise the PI has gained in high frequency data transmission from the LHC upgrade projects (ATLAS ITk and LHCb Velo).
The needle will have a finer pitch from the present state-of-the-art RF needles with high performance up to a frequency of 100GHz. This will enable reduced pitch of the I/O pads of the ICs that will underpin 5G telecommunications and allow IC miniaturisation and RF testing during mass production.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The ability to simulate and manufacture RF semiconductor test probes has been obtained
Exploitation Route We are in the process of commercialising the technology via a university spin-out company
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)

 
Description We have used the information for building technological capacity for the spin-out company.
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics
 
Description Impact Acceleration Account - CMP of CVD W wafers
Amount £17,325 (GBP)
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2018 
End 02/2019
 
Description Impact Acceleration Account - Semiconductor probe needle development
Amount £29,816 (GBP)
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2020 
End 11/2020
 
Description NanoProbe - disrupting the semiconductor test probe market
Amount £121,332 (GBP)
Organisation Scottish Enterprise 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2019 
End 09/2020
 
Description NanoProbe - disrupting the semiconductor test probe market - Covid-19 Extension
Amount £65,600 (GBP)
Organisation Scottish Enterprise 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2020 
End 03/2021
 
Description NxNW: Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research ([CURe) Programme
Amount £78,942 (GBP)
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2018 
End 01/2019
 
Description Industrial collaboration on the development of probe needles 
Organisation PETA Solutions
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We are in the process of developing probe needles for the semiconductor wafer test market. The company makes these and markets them. We are preforming a development of needles that they will eventually manufacture.
Collaborator Contribution They have given us guidance and supplied technical know-how.
Impact Still at an early stage. Small, fine-pitch probe needles.
Start Year 2014
 
Description development of CVD tungsten films on silicon wafers 
Organisation ARCHER
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We are in the process of developing CVD tungsten films on silicon wafers. We have push the development and tested the films electrically and mechanically. We are extending the film development to include W-Re CVD layers.
Collaborator Contribution They are performing the CVD runs. they have updated their CVD processing equipment to allow them to process the W films in a more reliable fashion. They are in the process of updating their reactor to allow W-Re deposition.
Impact We have made better films. We have started to further this development to look at WRe films.
Start Year 2014
 
Title Semiconductor probe needle 
Description New manufacturing process for a semiconductor test probe needle resulting in a superior product 
Type Of Technology New/Improved Technique/Technology 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact We are in the process of spinning out a company. The company will take the product to market to improve semiconductor wafer test