Solving Mechanical Reliability Problems in the Microelectronics Industry using the NanoTest System - Application Note by Micro Materials

Topics Covered

Micro Materials NanoTest System
NanoTest Ideal for Solving Mechanical Reliability Problems in Microelectronics Industry
Hardness, Modulus and Creep of Lead-Free Solder at RT-200°C
Scratch Resistance of Si-Doped DLC Film for IR Optics
Interlayer Adhesion


Micro Materials Ltd are based in Wrexham, UK, which is located approximately one hour from the cities of Manchester and Liverpool.

Micro Materials provide innovative, versatile nanomechanical test instrumentation, and respond to developments in applications in response to customer and market requirements. The integrity, reliability and accuracy of our equipment is paramount, as is our relationship with our users.

Micro Materials NanoTest System

The MML NanoTest(TM) system is a fully flexible nano-mechanical property measurement system, offering a complete range of nanomechanical and nanotribological tests, including nanoindentation, nano-scratch and wear, nano-impact and fatigue, elevated temperature nanoindentation and indentation in fluids.

Amongst other parameters, the NanoTest(TM) is capable of measuring hardness, modulus, toughness, adhesion and many other properties of thin films and other surfaces or solids.

NanoTest Ideal for Solving Mechanical Reliability Problems in Microelectronics Industry

The NanoTest is an ideal tool-kit for solving a wide range of mechanical reliability problems throughout the microelectronics industry.

As the size of integrated circuits continues to decrease in line with Moores Law, mechanical reliability is becoming an increasing problem due to the increased importance of thin film properties. Mechanical properties need to be optimized for improved mechanical properties and durability. To optimize these coatings effectively, rapid laboratory testing of different coatings and multi-layers is essential.

The NanoTest is used to test for variable inter-layer adhesion, fracture resistance, coating uniformity, modulus, hardness, thermal variations and scratch resistance in:

  • IC bonding pads
  • Passivated metal tracks
  • Barrier Layers
  • Flat panel displays
  • Scratch resistant coatings for IR optics
  • Multi-layer packaging films
  • Multilevel interconnects
  • Solder Bonding
  • Interlayer dielectrics
  • Electronic Packaging
  • Low-k dielectrics
  • Wire Bond Fingers
  • Solder-less press fit connectors
  • Conductive Ni/Au coated polymers

With its wide range of techniques for testing under true operating conditions, including high temperature testing and impact testing, the NanoTest enables a complete picture of the mechanical properties of the material to be built up rapidly.

Hardness, Modulus and Creep of Lead-Free Solder at RT-200°C

Microelectronic devices are processed at elevated temperatures (up to 400°C) and also are subject to thermal cycles during use (chips in an IC can reach 150°C). The NanoTest high temperature stage enables testing and evaluation at processing and operating temperatures.

Scratch Resistance of Si-Doped DLC Film for IR Optics

Silicon doping of DLC coatings can improve adhesion to some substrates and alter the surface wettability, although at the expense of some hardness. The nano-scratch module has been used to investigate how this affects their scratch resistance.

The figure shows nano-scratch test traces together from tests on Si-containing DLC films. Failure is clearly seen as an increase in scratch depth and subsequent oscillations in the scratch trace as the probe encounters broken film. Images from the NanoTest microscope confirm total film failure.

Interlayer Adhesion

Poor or variable interlayer adhesion, commonly due to a non-optimized coating procedure at high temperatures, ultimately leads to delamination and device failure. Impact and fatigue testing with the NanoTest Impact module can provide clear and reliable measurements on adhesion strength that can be used to improve overall product design and performance.

About Micro Materials

Established in 1988, Micro Materials Ltd are manufacturers of the innovative NanoTest system, which offers unique nanomechanical test capability to materials researchers for the characterisation and optimisation of thin films, coatings and bulk materials. The current model, the NanoTest Vantage was launched on June 1st 2011.

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