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Alternative Metallurgies for MEMS Lis Seal
Keywords: MEMS, lid seal, sintering paste
MEMS devices are a segment of the electronics industry enjoying explosive growth. With the advent of the internet of things (IoT), the trajectory for growth will continue to be steep and price pressures on both the devices and packaging will be intense. Current MEMS packaging schemes rely heavily on an architecture that employs a metal-can or laminate “lid” attached to the device package with a solder ring. This ring serves to connect the package elements together mechanically and to protect the device from noise (electronic or acoustic) and environmental damage. Like most modern electronic devices, MEMS devices are subject to the challenges imposed by the requirement for lead-free packaging. As with many devices, solder connections formed within the package have a similar composition, and therefore a similar reflow profile, to the solder used to attach the packaged components to a substrate. Devices that yield well at the manufacturer are thus susceptible to field failure at the assembly site induced by remelting of the solder within the package during assembly reflow. Unlike in SIP packages where the solder joints in the module are often encased in mold compound, the ring seal in MEMS devices is exposed and unreinforced resulting in failures such as lid shift, solder flow or flux contamination in the device cavity, and package deconstruction - particularly during rework. These type of post-fabrication yield losses can be very costly. Transient liquid phase (TLPS) sintering paste compositions are a new class of solder replacement materials that can be processed at typical reflow temperatures, but which do not remelt when subjected to subsequent thermal excursions. TLPS pastes combine solder alloy particles and reactive metal particles in proportions such that the solder ‘thermosets’ during a typical solder reflow cycle. This ‘thermosetting’ behavior results in a joint that does not remelt at the original reflow temperature, and thus enables the highly reliable electrical interconnect essential for assemblies that will undergo subsequent reflow excursions. TLPS pastes are similar to solders in many respects. The electrical, thermal and mechanical performance is similar to conventionally used tin-based solders. The TLPS pastes are stored and applied like solder pastes. The reflow cycles used to form the TLPS paste joints are also similar to those for forming solder joints. However, unlike solder, TLPS materials do not change shape during reflow or wet substrates beyond the deposition footprint. Also unlike solder, the metals within the bulk of the TLPS interconnect react with one another resulting in a stable interconnect with a thermally robust bonding structure to joining surfaces, even after subsequent thermal cycles. These attributes present both unique opportunities and unique challenges for addressing MEMS lid seal applications. This paper will explore the key material and engineering challenges for implementation of TLPS paste in MEMS lid seal applications.
Catherine Shearer, Director of R&D
Ormet Circuits, Inc EMD Performance Materials
San Diego, CA

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