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Continuing Professional Development

Over a 10 year working period which overlapped with academic studies as a Materials Engineer, I have
been able to improve my technical and management skills by obtaining several degrees and certificates,
some of which are in progress:

1) Doctor of Philosophy (Materials Engineering), Universiti Sains Malaysia


This research covered the use of nanoscale metallic particles in order to develop a novel high
temperature die attach material for power semiconductor packages. The work resulted in a thesis
publication entitled “Development of Ag-Al die attach material for high temperature use on Silicon
Carbide devices”, 8 peer reviewed journals and 3 international conference proceeding publications.
2) Healthy list of peer reviewed and international publications
My work has resulted in 21 peer reviewed international publications to date on various technology
topics:
A. Peer reviewed journals
(i) Vemal Raja Manikam, Kuan Yew Cheong, Khairunisak Abdul Razak, Chemical reduction methods for
synthesizing Ag and Al nanoparticles and their respective nanoalloys, Materials Science and Engineering: B,
Elsevier, Vol. 176, December 22, 2010.
(ii) Vemal Raja Manikam, Kuan Yew Cheong, Die Attach Materials for High Temperature Applications: A
Review, IEEE Transactions on Components, Packaging & Manufacturing Technology, Vol. 1, No.4, April 2011.
(iii) Vemal Raja Manikam, Khairunisak Abdul Razak, Kuan Yew Cheong, Physical and electrical attributes of
sintered Ag80–Al20 high temperature die attach material with different organic additives content, Journal of
Materials Science: Materials in Electronics, Vol. 24, Issue 2 , pp 720-733, June 2012.
(iv) Vemal Raja Manikam, Khairunisak Abdul Razak, Kuan Yew Cheong, Effect of Sintering Time on Silver-
Aluminium Nanopaste for High Temperature Die Attach Applications, Advanced Materials Research, Vol. 576
(2012), pp 199-202, Trans Tech Publications, Switzerland.
(v) Vemal Raja Manikam, Khairunisak Abdul Razak, Kuan Yew Cheong, Reliability of sintered Ag80-Al20 die
attach nanopaste for high temperature applications on SiC power devices, Microelectronics Reliability, Vo. 53,
Issue 3, pp 473–480, March 2013.
(vi) Vemal Raja Manikam, Khairunisak Abdul Razak, Kuan Yew Cheong, Sintering of silver-aluminium
nanopaste with varying aluminium weight percent for use as a high temperature die attach material, IEEE
Transactions on Components, Packaging and Manufacturing Technology, Vol.2, No. 12, pp 1940-1948, 2012.
(vii) Vemal Raja Manikam, Khairunisak Abdul Razak, Kuan Yew Cheong, A novel silver–aluminium high-
temperature die attach nanopaste system: the effects of organic additives content on post-sintered attributes,
Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Electronics, Vol. 24, Issue 8, pp 2678-2688, August 2013.
(viii) Vemal Raja Manikam, Kim Seah Tan, Khairunisak Abdul Razak, Kuan Yew Cheong, Nanoindentation of
porous die attach materials as a means of determining mechanical attributes, Applied Mechanics and Materials ,
Vol. 393, pp 57-62, September 2013.
B. International conference proceedings
(i) Vemal Raja Manikam, M. Hamdi, Effects of Pre-Pack Thermal Aging on the Formation and Evolution of
IMC for Sn-Pb36-Ag2 and Sn-Ag3.8-Cu0.7 and its Correlation to Solder Joint Strength, IMAPS 2008, Rhode
Island, USA, Nov 2, 2008.
(ii) Vemal Raja Manikam, M. Hamdi, An Investigation Concerning the Diffusion Of Elements in Sn-Ag3.8-
Cu0.7 and Sn-Pb36-Ag2 on Electrolytic Ni-Au Pads during Pre-Pack Thermal Aging, EPTC 2008, Singapore,
Dec 9, 2008.
(iii) Vemal Raja Manikam, MEMS vs. IC Manufacturing: Is integration between processes possible, ASQED
2009, KL, July 15, 2009.
(iv) Vemal Raja Manikam, Vittal Raja Manikam, MEMS Packaging: Challenges for Creating Reliable Packages,
EMAPS 2009, Penang, Malaysia, Dec 1, 2009.
(v) Vemal Raja Manikam, Vittal Raja Manikam, A Novel Approach to Die Attach: Magnetic Rollers with
Substrate Thickness Detection Capability, EPTC 2009, Singapore, Dec 9, 2009.
(vi) Vemal Raja Manikam, Khairunisak Abdul Razak, Kuan Yew Cheong, Silver based nanoalloy as a high
temperature die attach material, 5th Engineering Conference, EnCon 2012, 10-12th July 2012, Kuching,
Sarawak.
(vii) Vemal Raja Manikam, Khairunisak Abdul Razak, Kuan Yew Cheong, Effect of sintering time on Silver-
Aluminium nanopaste for high temperature die attach applications, International Conference on Advances in
Manufacturing and Materials Engineering (ICAMME 2012), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 3 - 5 July 2012.
(viii) Vemal Raja Manikam, Khairunisak Abdul Razak, Kuan Yew Cheong, Sintering of Ag80-Al20 nanoalloy
for high temperature die attach applications on silicon carbide-based power devices: The effects of ramp rate and
dwell time, 35th International Electronics Manufacturing Technology Conference (IEMT 2012), Kinta River
Front Hotel, Perak, Malaysia, 6-8th November, 2012 (Won Outstanding Student paper).
(ix) Amy Ang, Vemal Raja Manikam, Vigneswaran Letcheemana, Investigation of time zero die pad
delamination failure on power devices, 15th International Conference on Electronic Materials and Packaging
(EMAP 2013), Seoul, Korea, Oct 6, 2013.
(x) Vemal Raja Manikam, Samsun Paing, Amy Ang, Effects of soft solder materials and die attach process
parameters on large power semiconductor dies joint reliability, EPTC 2013, Singapore, Dec 12, 2013.
(xi) Vemal Raja Manikam, Erik Nino Tolentino, Fadhilah Nurani Ramuhzan, Nik Mohd Tajuddin & Azhar
Aripin, Improving reliability for electronic power modules, IEMT 2014, Johor Bahru, Malaysia, Nov 11-13,
2014
(xii) Vemal Raja Manikam & Erik Nino Tolentino, Sintering of Ag paste for power devices die attach on Cu
surfaces, EPTC 2014, Singapore, Dec 3-5, 2014.
(xiii) Xiaodan Wu, Jianxing Li, Tora Unuvar, Vemal Raja Manikam, Erik Nino Tolentino, The Improvements of
High Temperature Zn-Based Lead Free Solder, ElectronicComponents and Technology Conference (ECTC)
2015, San Diego, California USA, May 26 - 29, 2015 (accepted for publication).
3) Infineon Technologies Symposium publications (2013):
(i) Impact of diverse Ag plated thickness and surface roughness for thermosonic wire bonding towards
wedge pull result
(ii) Investigation of time zero die pad delamination failure on power devices
(iii) Investigation of lifted AlSiCu bond pad metallization during the Cu wire ball bonding process
(iii) The advantages of vacuum soldering oven towards Lead-based solder paste die attach process
during oven reflow
4) ON Semiconductor Technical Excellence Awards (2014) :
 Selection and evaluation of Ag sinter pastes for power device and module application,
November 2014
 Controlled environment for Ag micro flake sintering as a die attach material, November 2014
5) Technical reviewer for international journals :
 Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis, Elsevier, Impact factor: 3.898
Reviewed manuscript title: Combustion and Pyrolysis of Activated Carbon Fibre from Oil Palm
Empty Fruit Bunch Fibre Assisted through Chemical Activation with Acid Treatment
 Journal of Electronic Materials, Impact factor: 1.798
Reviewed manuscript title: SiC particles added to Ag paste as a novel high-temperature die-
attachment solution and grain growth kinetics of sintered porous Ag
6) Senior Member of IEEE :
(i) Professional membership number: 92647770
(ii) Executive-committee member for 2015 on the IEEE-Components, Packaging and Manufacturing
Technology (CPMT) Society Malaysian Chapter
(iii) Executive-committee member for 2015 on the IEEE-Technology Engineering Management
(TEMS) Society Malaysian Chapter
7) 4 issued US Patents; 1 filed US Patent:
 United States Patent, US 7,989,965 B2, Issued August 2, 2011
 United States Patent US 8,062,424 B2, Issued November 22, 2011
 United States Patent US 8,237,293 B2, Issued August 7, 2012
 United States Patent Application US 8,338,828 B2, Issued December 25, 2012
 United States Patent; Docket No: ONS01697; Filed January 20, 2015
8) Member of Project Management Institute, Member ID: 4153664
9) PRINCE 2 ® (Practitioner certified professional): July 2015 – July 2020
10) Certificate of basic German I; 28.06.2006 from Goethe Institute Kuala Lumpur
11.) MBA (International Business) from the University of East London, UK (Started in 2014, expect
to graduate in 2016)
CE 1.0: Process improvement studies on Pb & Pb-free solders under thermal pre-pack
conditions (Freescale Semiconductor Malaysia)

The following career episode illustrates my experience as a Process Engineer in a team of 5


technical team members to study the effects of the thermal pre-pack process on the intermetallic
(IMC) growth in both Pb and Pb-free solders. My team consisted of 2 technical specialists and 2
junior engineers tasked with understanding how the effects of thermal ageing during the thermal
pre-pack process actually leads to brittle failures on solder spheres attached to the ball-grid-array
(BGA) semiconductor package. In a nutshell, this project was part of the effort to demonstrate
which solder had better reliability strength after thermal ageing before being shipped to customers
as completed products. The project was to be studied across a matrix consisting of different time
and temperature in order to select the best combination. This project was run at Freescale
Semiconductor’s Malaysian factory site. The project’s stakeholders included staff from
manufacturing, quality and senior management. The results of this study were submitted for a
Master’s of engineering degree (Manufacturing) with the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia. It also resulted in the publication of 2 international conferences proceedings.

(i) Vemal Raja Manikam, M. Hamdi, Effects of Pre-Pack Thermal Aging on the Formation and
Evolution of IMC for Sn-Pb36-Ag2 and Sn-Ag3.8-Cu0.7 and its Correlation to Solder Joint
Strength, IMAPS 2008, Rhode Island, USA, Nov 2, 2008.
(ii) Vemal Raja Manikam, M. Hamdi, An Investigation Concerning the Diffusion Of Elements in Sn-
Ag3.8-Cu0.7 and Sn-Pb36-Ag2 on Electrolytic Ni-Au Pads during Pre-Pack Thermal Aging, EPTC
2008, Singapore, Dec 9, 2008.

CE 1.1 Background: Defining the relationship between IMCs and reliability

Defining the relationship between IMC growth and reliability was a key foundation of this work. In
this work, 2 types of solder spheres on the BGA package were used; a Pb-solder (Sn-Pb36-Ag2)
and a Pb-free SAC solder (Sn-Ag3.8-Cu0.7). Figure CE 1.1 depicts the construction of the BGA
semiconductor package. The process in which this study was conducted is referred to as “thermal
pre-pack”, and is shown in Figure CE 1.2 under the outgoing inspections process. In this process
step, the semiconductor packages which have passed assembly and test and were heated in pre-pack
ovens at 3 different temperatures of 125°C, 150°C and 175°C to remove moisture before packing.
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Moisture needs to be removed before packing as sending these parts to customers with trapped
moisture in the encapsulation polymers can cause “pop-corn cracks”. This phenomenon happens
when trapped moisture inside the encapsulation polymers are subjected to heat at the customer’s
end during the surface mount soldering process, whereby the units will pop and crack, damaging
the delicate semiconductor dies.

BGA Package Assembly Process Flow


Gold
Die
wire

Die bond Wire


Substrate
bond
Wafer dicing Mold
Compound

Encapsulant Solderball Singulation


Solder
attach
ball

Figure CE 1.1: Construction of a BGA semiconductor package depicting solder spheres


attached beneath it

Receiving of raw Assembly Test Operations Outgoing

material Inspections

and packing
Figure CE 1.2: Operations process flow depicting outgoing inspections as the focus process

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CE 1.1.1 Background: IMC growth model

It is generally accepted that with the transition from leaded solder alloys to lead-free solder alloys,
one major problem other than the high liquidus temperature (as compared to that of Pb-solder
alloys) is the formation of IMCs. Most lead-free solder alloys are susceptible to IMC formation
which leads to brittle failure modes, as compared to Pb-solders which display a much reduced
amount of solder IMC. The existence of a thin IMC layer due to the reaction between solder and the
underlying metal surface indicates that the solder/UBM (under-bump metallization) or
solder/substrate interface attains a good metallurgical bonding. However, excessive growth of IMC
may also have a deleterious effect on the mechanical reliability of the solder joint. IMC can be
formed even at room temperature. In addition, the joints in the electronic products often serve at a
high temperature relative to their melting point. Therefore, the IMC layer grows up continuously in
solid state which results in the brittle failure of the joint. In this work, both solders were attached to
a PCB with the following metallic configuration:

Solder ball / Sphere

Gold layer (Au)


Nickel layer (Ni)
Copper layer (Cu)

Figure CE 1.3: Solder sphere and underlying PCB metal configuration

In most literature around the world, the key forecast method if a part will have excessive IMC
growth is based upon the Arrhenius temperature factor and time power law as shown in Equation
CE 1.1, whereby x is the IMC’s thickness (mm) at time, t(s) and x0 is the initial IMC layer’s
thickness. The IMC will be formed via inter-diffusion of inter-metallic elements within and around

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the solder when subjected to heat. The IMC’s real thicknesses are typically measured using a
surface profile equipment, whereby the average thickness is obtained using software algorithms
from several measurement points. Figure CE 1.4 depicts one of the measurements done on this
work under an optical microscope. The IMC build up can be clearly seen here.

x = x0 + Atn exp (-Q/RT) (Equation CE 1.1)

Figure CE 1.4: Original image (left); IMC measurement points (right)

CE 1.2 Defining the overall project scope, objectives and related engineering activities

As the project’s lead engineer, the key objective was to run a structured engineering analysis in the
production environment, taking into the following factors:

 No disruption to production activities

 Engagement of key resources from manufacturing and quality engineering

 Highlight reports to senior management needs to be presented at agreed end stages

I was tasked with designing the DOE, key factors for the engineering study, obtaining the resources
for completing the project and drawing up the project plan. The resources covered equipment time
and people skills. The outcome of this project was tied directly to the manufacturing site’s “Zero
Defect” quality theme, i.e. no defects get into the customer’s site through proper control of thermal-
pre-pack processes. The work included some key steps as explained here:
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CE1.2.1 Estimating the required production time for building samples and performing the
pre-pack process.

CE1.2.2 Plan, assign and authorize tasks to team managers across production, equipment and
process teams’ in-line with the project’s plan.

CE1.2.3 Designing a structured process flow diagram for the study, followed by a DOE
which covered all factors and legs. Parallel work included failure mode discussions
and statistical analysis of failures. Figure CE 1.5 and 1.6 depict the DOE and
process flow diagram for this work.

CE1.2.4 Once all relevant information was obtained and completed from this study, a change
management session was put in place, whereby key stakeholders and the engineering
change management board reviewed the results and proposals to implement the
proposed process improvements.

StdOrder RunOrder PtType Blocks Temperature Solder type Baking hours


6 1 1 1 125 95.5%Sn/3.8%Ag/0.7%Cu 4
23 2 1 1 175 95.5%Sn/3.8%Ag/0.7%Cu 6
14 3 1 1 150 95.5%Sn/3.8%Ag/0.7%Cu 4
7 4 1 1 125 95.5%Sn/3.8%Ag/0.7%Cu 6
9 5 1 1 150 62%Sn/36%Pb/2%Ag 2
17 6 1 1 175 62%Sn/36%Pb/2%Ag 2
21 7 1 1 175 95.5%Sn/3.8%Ag/0.7%Cu 2
13 8 1 1 150 95.5%Sn/3.8%Ag/0.7%Cu 2
4 9 1 1 125 62%Sn/36%Pb/2%Ag 8
19 10 1 1 175 62%Sn/36%Pb/2%Ag 6
8 11 1 1 125 95.5%Sn/3.8%Ag/0.7%Cu 8
3 12 1 1 125 62%Sn/36%Pb/2%Ag 6
22 13 1 1 175 95.5%Sn/3.8%Ag/0.7%Cu 4
24 14 1 1 175 95.5%Sn/3.8%Ag/0.7%Cu 8
20 15 1 1 175 62%Sn/36%Pb/2%Ag 8
2 16 1 1 125 62%Sn/36%Pb/2%Ag 4
1 17 1 1 125 62%Sn/36%Pb/2%Ag 2
10 18 1 1 150 62%Sn/36%Pb/2%Ag 4
12 19 1 1 150 62%Sn/36%Pb/2%Ag 8
18 20 1 1 175 62%Sn/36%Pb/2%Ag 4
16 21 1 1 150 95.5%Sn/3.8%Ag/0.7%Cu 8
11 22 1 1 150 62%Sn/36%Pb/2%Ag 6
15 23 1 1 150 95.5%Sn/3.8%Ag/0.7%Cu 6
5 24 1 1 125 95.5%Sn/3.8%Ag/0.7%Cu 2

2 extra samples: Solder types:


Control samples with NO pre-pack baking
Figure CE 1.5: Full factorial DOE
a.) Leadfree (95.5%Sn/3.8%Ag/0.7%Cu)
with 3Leadfree:
factors95.5%Sn/3.8%Ag/0.7%Cu
for the proposed work
Leaded: 62%Sn/36%Pb/2%Ag
b.) Leaded (62%Sn/36%Pb/2%Ag)

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IMC growth study

Leaded
Lead free

Bake at 125°C, 150°C, Bake at 125°C, 150°C,


175°C 175°C

Hours at 0, 2, 4, 6 and 8 hrs Hours at 0, 2, 4,6 and 8 hrs

Shear test Shear test

Tensile test Tensile test

Failure type Failure type


(Brittle/Ductile) (Brittle/Ductile)

SEM for IMC SEM for IMC


formation by formation by
bake hrs bake hrs

Drop tests Drop tests

Figure CE 1.6: Process flow diagram for the work

CE 1.3 Execution of personal engineering activities

The project was carried using a classic project management model, which encompassed the key
phases of initiation, planning, execution and finally monitoring/controlling.

CE1.3.1 Pre-initiation stage / feasibility study

In this stage, the team members were placed together to develop basic understanding of the
project. It was in this stage also that the material science fundamentals were explained to the
team. In essence this was held as a workshop. For example teams were introduced to the Sn-
Ag-Cu ternary phase diagram so that they could relate the changes in temperature to the
formation of varying IMC phases in the respective solders (Figure CE 1.7).

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Figure CE 1.7: Sn-Ag-Cu ternary phase diagram and varying phases of IMC formation

CE1.3.2 Initiation Phase

Here, it was crucial to establish a solid foundation with the team on the business case
justifications for carrying out this project and develop the team charter. In this phase also the
teams and key stakeholders proposed risks and assumptions which need to be considered in
the project plan and the draft FMEA (Failure modes and effects analysis).

CE1.3.3 Planning Phase

In this phase, the overall project plan was developed based on the information gained from
the previous phases. Teams needed to be guided on their work package deliverables in
meeting the key deliverables. Checkpoints and highlight reports were also outlined in order
to meet the corporate communications strategy requirements. This helped develop a
foundation for the rest of the project.

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CE1.3.4 Execution Phase

In the execution phase, I oversaw the entire study using the 2 new solders, and 3 varying test
temperatures with time for tasks allocated using equipment setup and sample builds. Each
finding was documented in pre-agreed document standards from the planning stage. By
engaging the failure analysis team for microstructure studies, I was able to impart my
metallurgy knowledge and analyze the failures from each category using SEM (scanning
electron microscope) images. Some images are shown below, depicting varying failure
modes after cold-ball-pull tests on thermally aged units. These findings were documented in
corporate approved communication documents in order to develop a common reference
point for future work.

Figure CE 1.8: SEM fractograph images

CE1.3.5 Monitoring and Control Phase

Once all deliverables were in place from the project, monitoring of the changes which were
approved from the change board. This monitoring phase was done by a junior engineer as
part of his Green Belt Six Sigma certification program. My task was to mentor the engineer
on the use of statistical analysis tools such as JMP and Minitab. These analysis were done in
accordance with the DMAIC methodology (Define, Measure, Analyze, Implement and
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Control). A benefits review was held at the end stage of the project closure to review the
original benefits suggested against those which can be realized at the moment or after
project closure. The project’s knowledge transfer to local site manufacturing teams was
done in this phase as well, so that the project team engineers could be used as consultation
teams instead. This was an official product handover and transfer phase for process
sustaining.

CE1.3.6 Project Closing

The project was successfully closed after main stakeholders and senior management
reviewed the findings and key financials. Risks and issues were also presented and
documented as follow-on-recommendations. It was also agreed that this project was to be
used by me to generate a Masters of Engineering thesis with University of Malaya entitled
“Effects of baking parameters on the structure and properties of leaded and lead free
solders” alongside 2 peer reviewed international conference proceedings.

CE 1.4 Summary

Through team work and the support from the senior management team, we were able to complete
the project and document the findings. Key improvements and suggestions were put in place in
order to improve the process:

 The cold-ball-pull process was introduced in the manufacturing process as it was found that
it was more robust in detecting IMC brittle failures. This was part of the product description
quality agreement with Continental Germany for Freescale Malaysia.

 Leaded solders were proven to be more robust after pre-pack thermal ageing. The Pb-free
solders were recommended to use much lower thermal ageing temperatures of 125ºC instead
of 175ºC, but with a much longer ageing time in order to meet the RoHs and WEEE Pb-free
directives.

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CE 2.0: Qualification of a novel Pb-free Zn-based soft solder silicon die attach for power
device applications (Infineon Technologies Malaysia)

This career episode explains my work as a Development Specialist (Technology Process


Integration) while with Infineon Technologies Malaysia. In this work, my task was to assist the
corporate headquarters team in Munich and the local factory site development teams in
understanding the solder’s metallurgy, the material science behind the IMC phase formations,
associated risks and feasibility of implementing this Pb-free solder. This Pb-free Zn-solder project
was part of the means to meet RoHS and WEEE directives for a Pb-free die attach solder solution in
microelectronics manufacturing products. In this project, I led a team of 2 junior Technology
Process Integrators, and advised key stakeholders which spanned quality, manufacturing and senior
management. My job was to offer factory wide consultation as the factory’s Material Science
specialist, and direct corporate efforts to implement the technology into mass manufacturing for
silicon power semiconductors.

CE 2.1 Project background

The use of Pb-based solders is being limited by directives imposed by RoHS and WEEE as part of
the effort to reduce Pb-based elements in microelectronic parts. The Zn-based solder used in this
work (codename A335) was co-developed with Honeywell USA to meet silicon power
semiconductor device application requirements. It has a combination of Zn, Al, Ge and Ga
elements. The Zn-solder was to be used as a die attach interface in the power package, and therefore
needs to be able to withstand temperatures of up to approximately 250ºC, demonstrate reliable
performances and possess good electrical as well as thermal conductivities. The alloy used had a
high liquidus temperature (Table CE 2.1) which matched the needs of power semiconductor
devices up to operational temperatures of 250ºC (Table CE 2.2).

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Alloy Solidus Liquidus Tensile Young’s Elongation, Thermal Thermal Electrical
Temp Temp (MPa) Modulus % expansion, conductivity, resistivity,
(ºC) (ºC) (GPa) ppm/ºC W/mK (µΩ/cm)

A335 354 370 211 29.9 25.1 28.5 99 6.2

Table CE 2.1: Zn-solder A335’s material properties for use on power devices

Table CE 2.2: List of semiconductor power devices depicting operating temperatures

Devices by application Current operating Projected operating

temperature, °C temperature, °C
Si microwave 150 200
Si digital logic 300 400
Si small signal 250 350
Si power 200 NA
Si DRAM 150 NA
SiC power 300 400
SiC digital logic 100 700
SiC small signal 400 NA
SiC power N-C MODSFET 600 NA
SiC DRAM 600 NA
Nitrides (n-type) NA 700
Nitrides microwave NA 700

The selection of 250ºC as the maximum operating temperature of the alloy was based on the
homologue temperature ratio (Equation CE 2.1), where the ratio between the solder alloy’s
melting point, Tm and operational temperature, To, both expressed in Kelvin (K), is called the
homologue temperature ratio, (Th) and is usually set as low as 0.67 to as high as 0.85. The value of
0.85 must not be exceeded to guarantee safe use of any die attach material.

To ( K )
Th 
Tm ( K ) (Equation CE 2.1)
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The A335 alloy however faced several issues, including embrittlement due to CuZn IMC formation on the
Cu lead frame leading to die back and solder separation. Therefore it was my task as a metallurgist to advice
on the right lead frame surface combination for the solder to improve the solder’s wetting capabilities. The
solder was also depicting cracks after reflow and reliability tests. This was believed due to the excessive
intermetallic compound (IMC) formation between the Zn-based solder and the lead frame (Figure CE 2.1).

Figure CE 2.1: Associated issues for the A335 Zn solder alloy: (a) Excessive IMC growth;
(b) Die crack after reflow; (c) Solder to die back separation

My role on this project can be summarized in the following notes:

CE 2.1.1 Engage the external support of Honeywell USA and gain commitment from the local
manufacturing and quality teams to proceed with the project. Here, a Business Case outline with the RoHS
and WEEE directives as the trigger points was written.

CE 2.1.2 Develop a hypothesis for the IMC growth phases and understand the risks each phase poses
towards the long term reliability of the technology when in the field. This was part of the corporate risk
management strategy to identify risks.

CE 2.1.3 Work with external vendors to obtain a new lead frame and die back metallurgy recipe in order to
control and inhibit excessive IMC growth within the solder.

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CE 2.1.4 Oversee beta test runs and subsequent engineering lot builds (assembly and electrical tests) in order
to gauge a clear understanding of this new technology being implemented under existing manufacturing
conditions (process and equipment)

CE 2.1.5 Advice and offer consultation to the failure analysis teams in terms of sample failure analysis
techniques.

CE 2.1.6 Update senior management and the Director of R&D on highlights during the course of the project.

CE 2.2 Engineering activities

This project was run across several phases, which I personally oversaw and will be explained
separately here:

CE 2.2.1 Development of hypothesis for failures

To develop a solid foundation for the project, it was imperative that a detailed failure hypothesis
was presented. Firstly, key points related to the existing lead frame, die back metallurgy used for
the A335 solder and failure modes were analyzed:

 The lead frame used had a bare Cu surface

 The die back metallurgy structure was Ti/Ni/Ag with thicknesses of 0.2/0.3/2.0 microns
respectively

 Using X-ray diffraction (XRD) and electron dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), 2 main phases
of intermetallic compounds (IMC) were identified in the solder; AgZn3 with the die back
surface and Cu5Zn8 with the lead frame’s bare Cu surface

 Using nanoindentation techniques and references from key literature works in this area, the
team was able to document the hardness and Young’s modulus of these IMC phases:

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Table CE 2.3: Zn-solder IMC phases and related material properties

IMC Phases Young’s modulus, E, GPa Hardness, H, GPa

AgZn3 124.4 3.52

Cu5Zn8 162.1 4.92

The hardness, H and E modulus values were obtained from the following equations used in
the nanoindentation technique which utilized a Berkovich indentation tip:

Pmax Pmax
H= = (Equation CE 2.2)
A 24.5hc2

1
 1 1  vi2 
E  (1  v )  * 
2
 (Equation CE 2.3)
E Ei 

The value of H was directly related to the force, Pmax and area of indentation, A. The
penetration contact depth, hc was calculated from Equation CE 2.4, whereby  , the
geometrical constant for the Berkovich indenter had a value of 0.75. S, the stiffness of the
Zn solder was determined from the slope of the initial unloading by calculating the
maximum load and depth. The Young’s modulus of elasticity, E was identified as a function
of v which is the Poisson’s ratio of the Zn solder whilst E i and vi represented the Young’s

modulus of elasticity and Poisson’s ratio of the nanoindenter tip. The term E * is the reduced
Young’s modulus of elasticity of the Zn solder.

Pmax
hc  hmax   (Equation CE 2.4)
S

 Using a combination of these techniques and consolidation of information, it was


understood that the failure mechanism occurred in 2 phases:

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1. Formation of AgZn and CuZn IMC with the associated die back and Cu substrate
during solder reflow. The CuZn IMC seemed rather thick due to the active and
vigorous inter-diffusion from the Cu substrate into the bulk solder. The Ag layer on
the die back at 2.0 microns also contributed to a thick layer of AgZn IMC.

2. The bulk solder had an E modulus of 29 GPa. There was a significant difference in
modulus between the IMC phases and the bulk solder. When the IMC got too thick,
the hard and brittle IMC could not compensate the internal stresses induced between
the silicon die and substrate as what solders normally do. The solder then became
more susceptible to cracking. It can be seen that the crack propagated from the
bottom of the die, i.e. the die-solder interface to the top of the die (Figure CE 2.1
(c)).

CE 2.2.2 Development of a project plan to address the failures

To address the issues, a project plan and team charter was drawn up and presented to the stakeholders to gain
approval. Resources in terms of people skills and equipment time for the engineering builds were committed
by the stakeholders. The external suppliers (Honeywell USA) were included as consultants on the project to
advice in terms of material and process deliverables.

CE 2.2.3 Implementing stage plans and key deliverables

In order to address the key conclusions in CE 2.2.1, the following tasks were put in place a work packages
and assigned to individuals who were committed as resources on the project:

 To restrain the excessive formation of the Cu5Zn8 IMCs on the Cu substrate to the solder interface, a
specially engineered lead frame having a NiNiP diffusion barrier on the Cu was used. The diffusion
barrier had a thickness of 1.5 microns and was electroplated onto the Cu surface to act as a diffusion
barrier to avoid excessive diffusion of Cu into the bulk solder. A thin layer was then placed on to the
NiNiP barrier to help solder wettability. This would keep the thickness of the Cu5Zn8 IMC to a bare
minimum. My job was to outline the selected plating thickness and key coverage areas. Figure CE
2.2 depicts the new lead frame design.

6
Figure CE 2.2: Lead frame design depicting the selective Cu flash on the NiNiP diffusion barrier to
promote solder wettability

 The die back to solder AgZn3 IMC formation was controlled by changing the Ag thickness which
came into contact with the solder. The Ag thickness was reduced from 2.0 microns to 0.8 microns in
order to minimize the AgZn3 IMC formation. The device was also tested in order to verify that the
reduction in thickness did not affect the electrical properties when the device was turned on. This
change was managed with the wafer fab teams who helped direct and build test wafers using the
agreed metallurgy change.

CE 2.2.4 Monitoring and controlling engineering builds

To test the solution, several engineering builds were planned. The quantity of the builds were
discussed with the engineering and quality assurance teams, so that a common checkpoint could be
agreed upon in accordance with the product quality criteria delivery. My role was to chair these
meetings and align the quality expectations of all stakeholders to the product’s delivery. Random
verifications were done during the engineering builds. Through such measures, the performance of
the solder against its predecessor was compared, as shown in Figure CE 2.3.

7
Figure CE 2.3: Comparison of changes: (a) Original structure with thick IMC; (b) Improved structure
with reduced IMC formation; (c) SAT scan depicting good bonding free of voids and cracks

CE 2.2.5 Project closure and corporate stakeholders update

As part of the project closure activities, my role was to present the overall findings and consolidated
data to the senior management team and the change management board. This was to introduce the
necessary materials changes to enable the solder solution to be implemented into the production
environment. Follow-on-recommendations were also offered and documented for New Product
Introduction (NPI) teams as a reference document. This was in-line with the corporate quality and
communications management strategies.

CE 2.3 Career episode summary

The wetting and behavior during die bonding of a Zn-based Pb-free solder were evaluated using a
newly designed lead frame and a change in the die back’s metallurgy after carefully understanding
the failure mechanisms. The results demonstrated that the use of a new lead frame having a NiNiP
Cu diffusion barrier provides a solution to obtain good solder wetting while restraining the negative
effects of CuZn IMC formation. The combined use of proper metal combinations on the lead frame
can provide a Pb-free Zn-based solder solution for die attach applications in power packages.
8
CE 3.0: Development and qualification of nanoscale silver (Ag) sintering as a die attach
solution for power module applications (ON Semiconductor Malaysia)

This career episode is an overview of my work as a Staff Materials Science Engineer with ON
Semiconductor Malaysia. It is the most significant industrial work to date which applied direct
academic knowledge into process and equipment development. In this work capacity, I led a team
of 3 junior engineers who reported to me directly, as well as a team of quality and manufacturing
personnel who reported to me functionally. This job role required me to impart my knowledge
acquired from my Doctorate work to enable the development and qualification of nanoscale Ag as a
potential high temperature die attach (DA) solution for power modules. This technology would
require new process definitions, materials and related corporate documentation. The project was
part of the aligned view of Pb-free technology for power modules under the WEEE and RoHS
directives. I reported directly to a Sr. R&D Director in Malaysia and the VP of R&D in the USA. I
also reported functionally to a Program Manager in Malaysia who oversaw this development as part
of the need for the power module development program at ON Semiconductor. In a nutshell, this
was a feasibility study mandated by ON Semiconductor’s corporate R&D management team for
long term growth in the power module semiconductor business. Figure CE 3.1 depicts an example
of ON Semiconductor’s power module design, which points out the DA layer beneath the die.

Figure CE 3.1: Power modules and cross-sectional view depicting the DA layer

1
CE 3.1 Project background: Ag sintering for enhanced DA applications in power modules

As part of the project’s implementation, the development of a theoretical foundation based on


academic literature and previous research work was crucial. The aim was to translate this work into
workable solutions for mass manufacturing in terms of process and equipment development. The
term Ag sintering is quite commonly used. This term is synonymous with Ag nanopaste-sintering as
it entails the fusion of nano-sized particles at lower processing temperatures. Nanoscale materials
can be sintered at lower temperatures due to their larger surface energy which provides the driving
force for the diffusion of atoms to neighboring particles during sintering. The scientific term for this
fusion is “Solid-state diffusion”, which can take place amongst the die attach materials’ particles at
low temperatures. Based on the excellent thermal and electrical properties of bulk Ag, as well as it
being comparatively cheaper than gold (Au), it has been considered as a viable DA material for
high temperature usage. These Ag particles have been incorporated into paste matrices and can be
used as a high temperature DA material using sintering to create the die-DA-substrate joints. Ag
pastes are usually prepared by mixing Ag nanoparticles in the nanometer range of diameter, with
carefully selected organic components which burn out during the low-temperature sintering. The
selected components are typically a binder, dispersant and thinner/solvent, depending on their
individual qualities to burn out at low temperatures. The sintering process occurs in 3 main stages,
i.e. the initial, intermediate and final sintering stages. In the initial stage, shrinkage of the material
occurs due to the particles rearranging themselves by rotating and sliding across each other, leading
to the formation of necking between the particles. In the intermediate stage, the majority of the
reactions surround the densification of the material and the formation of stable pore shapes as
dictated by the surface and interfacial energies. The pores eventually become unstable and will
collapse as they are break away from each other. The final stage covers elimination of isolated
pores and grain growth within the material whereby smaller grains will be consumed by much
larger grains. Of the 3 stages, the intermediate stage dictates most of the sintering process. Table
CE 3.1 and Figure CE 3.2 illustrate the transport mechanisms and paths which are present during
sintering of nanoparticles. It is important that during sintering the particles are able to undergo
lattice diffusion, i.e. a physical-mechanical-structural transformation, and not surface diffusion
which renders no change or fusion of atoms, etc. Therefore, with the incorporation of organic
matter in the paste, the material suppliers need to formulate a detailed and acceptable process which
matches the sintering profile being used.

2
Table CE 3.1: Material transport mechanisms during sintering

Transport mechanism Material source Related parameter


Lattice diffusion Grain boundary Lattice diffusivity, Dl
Grain boundary diffusion Grain boundary Grain boundary diffusivity, Db Db
Viscous flow Bulk grain Viscosity, 
Surface diffusion Grain surface Surface diffusivity, Ds
Lattice diffusion Grain surface Lattice diffusivity, Dl
Evaporation-condensation Grain surface Vapour pressure difference, p


Ds
p Dl
Db
Dl

Figure CE 3.2: Material transport paths during sintering and 2 particle fusion

When these particles are formulated into a paste for die attach purposes, the nanoparticles as well as
particles near the nano-range are susceptible to agglomeration and coagulation, which can lead to
in-effective sintering and densification conditions. For power device applications, if these
conditions are not met, the die attach layer would fail under extreme thermal conditions during
device field applications. Figure CE 3.3 depicts the coatings present on the nanoparticles and how
they are burnt off during sintering. This allows particle solid-state fusion without melting and
immediate densification to form the die attach interconnect layer.

3
Figure CE 3.3: Solid-state fusion during sintering mechanism and actual DA sintered Ag

layer beneath the semiconductor die

Sintering is able to yield high temperature materials which form a connection between 2 surfaces,
as shown in Figure CE 3.4. Sintered Ag has the highest operating temperature and melting point
amongst most of the existing high temperature solutions, i.e. it has an excellent homologue
temperature ratio. The ratio between the DA’s melting point, Tm and operational temperature, To,
both expressed in Kelvin (K), is called the homologue temperature ratio, (Th) and is usually set as
low as 0.67 to as high as 0.85. The value of 0.85 must not be exceeded to guarantee safe use of any
DA material, as shown in Equation CE 3.1. Table CE 3.2 illustrates several DA materials by
melting point and operations temperature.

To ( K )
Th 
Tm ( K ) (Equation CE 3.1)

4
Figure CE 3.4: Various high temperature die attach materials

Table CE 3.2: Comparison of available die attach materials for power modules

Properties Ag Sinter pastes Ag Epoxy pastes Solder pastes


Fundamental process Sintering Curing Reflow
Core material phase Cross-linking of Solidus-Liquidus
Solid-state fusion
during processing polymeric chains states
Thermal conductivity,
~ 240 ~20 ~70-80
W/m-K
Electrical conductivity,
41 <1 8
MS/m
Presence of IMC No No Yes
Low-medium, non- Power (high Pb) &
Applications High power
power non-power
Young's modulus, E Low Low High
CTE, ppm/K ~19 ~28-30
Hardness, H Low Low High
Porosity, % High None None
Processing
~250 < 200 ~350-280
temperatures, °C
Ease of application in
Easy Easy Easy
manufacturing

5
My role on this project can be summarized in the following notes:

CE 3.1.1 Drawing up a task plan for the key tasks and deliverables of the project after consulting the
Program Manager.

CE 3.1.1 Aligning and agreeing upon key resources for the project’s different phases.

CE 3.1.2 Engaging key DA material global suppliers and equipment manufacturers for the project,
negotiating non-disclosure agreements and contracts for on-site evaluation of systems.

CE 3.1.3 Developing DOEs and test plans for the individual test groups, including matrices with variables
and input factors. These were aligned to key output factors and measurable across global sites associated for
each material global supplier or equipment manufacturer. Figure CE 3.5 illustrates one such test plan.

Figure CE 3.5: DOE and test plan for one of the material/equipment supplier matrices

6
CE 3.3 Engineering activities

This project required me to provide material science consultation and knowledge on various phases
of the project:

CE 3.3.1 Development of failure criteria for post-sintered power modules using theoretical
knowledge

As mentioned before, this project was done to embrace my knowledge nanoscale sintering. These
journal publications were the benchmark on the work to develop a sound understanding of sintering
and its related challenges. This knowledge was also shared with the corporate management at ON
Semiconductor and the material/equipment suppliers through non-disclosure agreements. Failure
criteria related to electrical and thermal performances were identified using these academic
journals:

 (i) Vemal Raja Manikam, Khairunisak Abdul Razak, Kuan Yew Cheong, Physical and
electrical attributes of sintered Ag80–Al20 high temperature die attach material with
different organic additives content, Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Electronics,
Vol. 24, Issue 2 , pp 720-733, June 2012.

 (ii) Vemal Raja Manikam, Khairunisak Abdul Razak, Kuan Yew Cheong, Reliability of
sintered Ag80-Al20 die attach nanopaste for high temperature applications on SiC power
devices, Microelectronics Reliability, Vo. 53, Issue 3, pp 473–480, March 2013.

 (iii) Vemal Raja Manikam, Khairunisak Abdul Razak, Kuan Yew Cheong, Sintering of
silver-aluminium nanopaste with varying aluminium weight percent for use as a high
temperature die attach material, IEEE Transactions on Components, Packaging and
Manufacturing Technology, Vol.2, No. 12, pp 1940-1948, 2012.

 (vii) Vemal Raja Manikam, Khairunisak Abdul Razak, Kuan Yew Cheong, A novel silver–
aluminium high-temperature die attach nanopaste system: the effects of organic additives
content on post-sintered attributes, Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Electronics,
Vol. 24, Issue 8, pp 2678-2688, August 2013.

7
CE 3.3.2 Assessing suitability of equipment parameters for evaluations

Part of this phase included assisting equipment and materials suppliers in Germany and Netherlands in
obtaining suitable process parameters which were aligned to the parts being built for ON Semiconductor.
The prototypes needed to be properly handled and due consideration was needed on the fragile silicon dies
being used. I traveled to Germany and Netherlands as part of this effort with my Sr. Director to align and set
ON Semiconductor’s quality expectations.

CE 3.3.3 Monitoring stage plan deliverables (alignment to Program & Corporate goals)

Monitoring the stage plans was key in this project. Each phase of the project had key deliverables which
needed to be fulfilled before the project could move forward into the next phase. Biweekly calls and
presentation sessions were held with the corporate management in the USA on this project. Figure CE 3.6
depicts one such sessions slide.

Figure CE 3.6: Corporate communications template example for the project

8
CE 3.3.4 Controlling & delivering engineering builds and REL tests

In this phase, the engineering parts build was coordinated across Malaysia, Netherlands and
Germany. Parts were supplied from Malaysia, DA Ag sinter materials from Germany and the
equipment used was on site in the Netherlands. REL tests were done in association with Fraunhofer
Institute (IZM) in Nuremberg as this was a new technology. IZM acted as an external consultant on
this project.

Figure CE 3.7: ∆T and Rth monitoring of power modules to detect an increase in values
which means the DA layer failed

CE 3.4 Project closure and corporate stakeholders update

Project closure activities involved consolidation of all lessons learnt, and documentation of follow-
up-activities as part of the overall program effort. Recommendations, risks and issues were
presented to the R&D corporate team in order to review the technology for future use in mass
manufacturing conditions.

Figure CE 3.8: ON Semiconductor’s Pb-Free nano-Ag sintered engineering prototype

9
PROFESSIONAL ENGINEER
Summary Statement

These are the competency Units and Elements. These elements must be addressed in the Summary Statement
(see Section C). If you are applying for assessment as a Professional Engineer, you will need to download this
page, complete it and lodge it with your application.

Paragraph in the
A brief summary of how you have applied the career episode(s)
Competency Element
element where the element
is addressed
PE1 KNOWLEDGE AND SKILL BASE
a) My PhD work on nanomaterials and polymeric CE1.1.1, CE 1.3.1,
PE1.1 Comprehensive, theory- materials chemistry and characterization helped drive CE, 1.3.4, CE 2.1,
based understanding of the key work on nanopaste applications. CE 2.2.1, CE 2.2.3,
underpinning natural and b) Knowledge of solder technology, material science CE 2.2.4, CE 3.1,
physical sciences and the basics and theoretical understanding of high CE 3.3.1
engineering fundamentals temperature materials behavior helped on multiple
applicable to the engineering package technology development.
discipline

PE1.2 Conceptual understanding a) Used statistical methods from tools such as JMP and CE1.2, CE 1.2.4, CE
of the mathematics, numerical Minitab to design key DOEs and analyze findings and 1.3.2, CE 1.3.5, CE
analysis, statistics and computer data for engineering understanding. 2.2.2, CE 3.1.3,
and information sciences which
underpin the engineering
discipline
a) Good understanding of key governing bodies needs CE 1.1.1, CE 1.2,
PE1.3 In-depth understanding of such as RoHS and WEEE for implementation at CE 2.1, CE 2.1.1,
specialist bodies of knowledge factory sites when qualifying new materials. This also CE 2.2.1, CE 3.0
within the engineering discipline included understanding key needs of factories.

a) Publication of engineering literature to capture key CE 1.0, CE 1.1, CE


PE1.4 Discernment of
findings and research work. 1.1.1, CE 1.3.1, CE
knowledge development and
b.) Demonstration of key engineering fundamentals 1.3.6, CE 2.1, CE
research directions within the
2.2.1, CE 3.1, CE
engineering discipline
3.3.1
a) Management of technologies, keeping updated on CE 1.3, CE 1.4, CE
PE1.5 Knowledge of contextual industry changes and its effect on corporate directions. 2.0, CE 2.1.1, CE
factors impacting the 2.1.3, CE 2.2.4, CE
engineering discipline 2.2.5, CE 3.0, CE
3.3.3
a) As the key project lead on several projects, I was C E1.3.6, CE 1.2,
accountable for key decisions and the manner in which CE 2.0, CE 2.1.2,
they were managed. CE 3.0, CE 3.3.3
PE1.6 Understanding of the
scope, principles, norms,
accountabilities and bounds of
contemporary engineering
practice in the specific discipline
PE2 ENGINEERING APPLICATION ABILITY
a) Problem solving in an engineering environment was CE 1.1, CE 1.1.1,
PE2.1 Application of established performed by developing proper hypothesis, CE 1.2.3, CE 1.3.1,
engineering methods to complex understanding of key processes and using established CE 2.1, CE 2.1.2,
engineering problem solving analytical methods and hypothesis CE 2.2.1, CE 3.1.3,
CE 3.3.2
a) Use of key statistical tools and engineering data CE 1.2, CE 1.2.3,
PE2.2 Fluent application of
from research works CE 1.3.5, 2.1.3,
engineering techniques, tools and
b) Use of engineering tools and theoretical knowledge 2.1.5, CE 3.1.3, CE
resources
for analysis of new materials 3.3.
a) Development of new package technologies using CE 1.2.1, CE 1.2.2,
PE2.3 Application of systematic
systematic analysis and approved processes within the CE 1.2.3, CE 2.1.4,
engineering synthesis and design
organizations I have worked for. CE 2.2.1, CE 3.3.2,
processes
CE 3.3.4
PE2.4 Application of systematic a) Developing and strategizing steps for obtaining CE 1.2, CE 1.3, CE
approaches to the conduct and successful engineering product delivery 2.2, CE 3.1.1, CE
management of engineering 3.1.2, CE 3.1.3
projects
PE3 PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES
a) Ethical in providing feedback and results to higher CE 1.3.6, CE 2.2.5,
management CE 3.3.1 , CE 3.3.3,
PE3.1 Ethical conduct and
b) Submission of literature and patents works using CE 3.4
professional accountability
proper channels within the organization and giving
recognition where due.
a) Healthy list of engineering literature from key CE 1.0, CE 1.2, CE
PE3.2 Effective oral and written engineering work amongst engineering peers in the 1.3.6, CE 2.1.3, CE
communication in professional industry. Communicating ideas across teams. 2.1.5, CE 2.1.6, CE
and lay domains 3.1.2, CE 3.3.1, CE
3.3.3
a) Always finding new ways to perform tasks much CE 1.0, CE 1.4, C
PE3.3 Creative innovative and faster while engaging many teams across the 2.1.2, CE 2.1.5,
proactive demeanour organization CE 2.2.1, CE 3.1.2,
CE 3.1.3
a) Managing key information in a secure manner, CE 1.2.4, CE 1.3.6,
PE3.4 Professional use and providing access to such information only to key staff CE 1.4, CE 2.1.6,
management of information or stakeholders. CE 2.2.5, CE 3.3.3,
CE 3.4
a) Always being professional at work and presentable CE 1.2, CE 1.2.4,
to higher management is crucial in my work. CE 2.1.5, CE 2.1.6,
PE3.5 Orderly management of
b.) Development of strong people skills and CE 3.1.2, CE 3.4
self, and professional conduct
communication methods to make sure key
understandings were well received across the board.
a) Leadership is gained through experience, and it can CE 1.0, CE 1.2.2,
be seen in all roles I led experienced members from all CE 1.3.6, CE 2.0,
PE3.6 Effective team segments of the organization I worked for. CE 2.1.2, CE 2.1.3,
membership and team leadership CE 2.1.5, CE 2.1.6,
CE 3.0, CE 3.1.2,
CE 3.3.3