Glass-coated bonding wire targets copper, small diameter market

RED Micro Wire (RWM), a subsidiary of RED Equipment, announced a new high-quality copper wire featuring glass insulation for use in semiconductor wire bonding. Using a new technology where the wire is cast instead of drawn, the wire can be used like traditional copper bonding wire but offers several advantages that make it more cost-effective.

The industry is interested in copper as an alternative to gold, which has become quite expensive due to the rise in gold prices.  There is also interest in moving to smaller diameter wires for high pincount devices. RED Micro Wire is able to scale the wire down to 4 microns, which is far smaller than the 16-14 micron limit of other approaches.  

"OSAT suppliers, IDMs, wafer companies, and fabless semiconductor companies will find RMW’s solution a highly reliable alternative to using gold wire, which, until now, has been known the standard,” said Shimon Dahan, CEO, RED Micro Wire. "By providing cost-effective, low diameter, insulated micro wire that is as ‘good as gold,’ we can help our OEM customers keep up with Moore’s law, as they prepare their own designs for the future."

Danny Hacohen, VP Business Development & Marketing, said the bonding wire market is expected to be $6 billion in 2012, and that the market share of copper is expected to exceed 70% within the next two years.

"Advanced packaging technology is recognized as an essential ingredient in delivering cost-effective semiconductor solutions to a variety of electronic applications today.  Manufacturers are challenged in adopting new technologies for wire bonding," said Joanne Itow, analyst, Semico Research Corp. "If RED Micro Wire can show cost-efficiencies in addition to their ability to deliver scalability, quality and yield as compared to current packaging technology, the industry should be very excited by the company’s glass-insulated bonding wire."

Unlike traditional wires, RMW’s wires are cast, not drawn. This enables the production of a soft metal core with a high strength, ultra-fine glass coating. RMW’s innovative control-over- core and glass coating enables unmatched synergetic efficiency.

Copper has oxidation issues, which is presently being addressed by a coating of palladium (Pd). The glass-coating, which is a beneficial byproduct of how the wire is fabricated by casting, provides the same protection. Hacochen said that glass is very flexible is does not crack or break in normal use. He also said that the glass does not get incorporated into the bond during wire bonding (typically ball or wedge bonding).

Red Micro Wire offers a number of benefits including:

•             Avoids anti-oxidation enabling a longer shelf life

•             Able to support larger spools enabling simpler materials management

•             Protects against “shorts” since the wire is coated and cannot make contact

•             Able to scale down to 4 microns far smaller than the 16-14 microns current wire can scale enabling it to support designs of the future and the overall scalability of the industry 

•             Flexibility in design, relaxed design rules due to no exposed wire

RMW will begin to sample the technology with OEM customers in March 2012 with full production by the end of the year. RMW R&D is done in Israel and manufacturing is planned to be at RED premises  in Singapore while providing best proximity to major Asia Pacific assembly and packaging players.

The technology will be used initially with copper wire, but will also be used with other types of metal cores (including Pt, Au, Ag,), and can be used in applications outside, as well as within the semiconductor industry. RED Micro Wire is a subsidiary of Singapore-based RED Equipment.

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