Award Date

5-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering

Department

Mechanical Engineering

First Committee Member

Zhiyong Wang, Chair

Second Committee Member

Brendan O’Toole

Third Committee Member

Woosoon Yim

Fourth Committee Member

Vellore Venkatesh

Graduate Faculty Representative

Rama Venkat

Number of Pages

125

Abstract

Flip chip is the main component of a RFID tag. It is used in billions each year in electronic packaging industries because of its small size, high performance and reliability as well as low cost. They are used in microprocessors, cell phones, watches and automobiles. RFID tags are applied to or incorporated into a product, animal, or person for identification and tracking using radio waves. Some tags can be read from several meters away or even beyond the line of sight of the reader. Passive RFID tags are the most common type in use that employ external power source to transmit signals. Joining chips by laser beam welding have wide advantages over other methods of joining, but they are seen limited to transparent substrates. However, connecting solder bumps with anisotropic conductive adhesives (ACA) produces majority of the joints. A high percentage of them fail in couple of months, particularly when exposed to vibration.

In the present work, failure of RFID tags under dynamic loading or vibration was studied; as it was identified as one of the key issue to explore. Earlier investigators focused more on joining chip to the bump, but less on its assembly, i.e., attaching to the substrate. Either of the joints, between chip and bump or between antenna and bump can fail. However, the latter is more vulnerable to failure. Antenna is attached to substrate, relatively fixed when subjected to oscillation. It is the flip chip not the antenna moves during vibration. So, the joint with antenna suffers higher stresses. In addition to this, the strength of the bonding agent i.e., ACA also much smaller compared to the metallic bond at the other end of the bump.

Natural frequency of RFID tags was calculated both analytically and numerically, found to be in kilohertz range, high enough to cause resonance. Experimental investigations were also carried out to determine the same. However, the test results for frequency were seen to be in hundred hertz range, common to some applications. It was recognized that the adhesive material, commonly used for joining chips, was primarily accountable for their failures. Since components to which the RFID tags are attached to experience low frequency vibration, chip joints fail as they face resonance during oscillation. Adhesives having much lower modulus than metals are used for attaching bumps to the substrate antennas, and thus mostly responsible for this reduction in natural frequency. Poor adhesive bonding strength at the interface and possible rise in temperature were attributed to failures under vibration.

In order to overcome the early failure of RFID tag joints, Peripheral Soldering, an alternative chip joining method was devised. Peripheral Soldering would replace the traditional adhesive joining by bonding the peripheral surface of the bump to the substrate antenna. Instead of joining solder bump directly to the antenna, holes are to be drilled through antenna and substrate. S-bond material, a less familiar but more compatible with aluminum and copper, would be poured in liquid form through the holes on the chip pad. However, substrates compatible to high temperature are to be used; otherwise temperature control would be necessary to avoid damage to substrate. This S-bond would form metallic joints between chip and antenna. Having higher strength and better adhesion property, S-bond material provides better bonding capability.

The strength of a chip joined by Peripheral Soldering was determined by analytical, numerical and experimental studies. Strength results were then compared to those of ACA. For a pad size of 60 micron on a 0.5 mm square chip, the new chip joints with Sbond provide an average strength of 0.233N analytically. Numerical results using finite element analysis in ANSYS 11.0 were about 1% less than the closed form solutions. Whereas, ACA connected joints show the maximum strength of 0.113N analytically and 0.1N numerically. Both the estimates indicate Peripheral Soldering is more than twice stronger than adhesive joints.

Experimental investigation was carried out to find the strength attained with S-bond by joining similar surfaces as those of chip pad and antenna, but in larger scale due to limitation in facilities. Results obtained were moderated to incorporate the effect of size. Findings authenticate earlier predictions of superior strengths with S-bond. A comparison with ACA strength, extracted from previous investigations, further indicates that S-bond joints are more than 10 times stronger.

Having higher bonding strength than in ACA joints, Peripheral Soldering would provide better reliability of the chip connections, i.e., RFID tags. The benefits attained would pay off complexities involved in tweaking.

Keywords

Flip chip technology; Radio frequency identification systems; Solder and soldering

Disciplines

Manufacturing | Materials Science and Engineering | Mechanical Engineering

Language

English


Share

COinS