Interns at CITC develop chip packaging demo model
November 9, 2023 – Two more students have completed their internship at CITC: Matteo Delle Donne and Gerick de Kruijf. The two ROC Nijmegen students in Creative Technology created a chip packaging demo model for use at trade shows and conferences.
In February, Matteo and Gerick took over this assignment from two fellow students. Gerick: “We know Ted and Nils quite well and they recommended CITC to us. So we continued their project, although we completely redesigned the model.” Both students were able to utilize their main qualities in this project. Matteo is a skilled draftsman who has worked on 2D and 3D drawings. Gerick, on the other hand, is good at coding, electrical engineering, soldering, and making calculations about how much power to use.
Together they worked on a chip packaging demo model for use at trade shows and conferences. Matteo explains their creation: “We took a MOSFAT (a voltage divider) as a starting point. The underlying idea is that the model shows the relationship between current and temperature. CITC has developed an adhesive that has a longer lifespan than usual, and we tried to visualize that with moving lights in different colors.” When asked whether they are happy with the end result, Matteo is enthusiastic, but Gerick admits that he would have done it differently now. “According to my father, that means that I have learned a lot during my internship.” The model is now ready and will premiere at SEMICON Europa from November 14-17.
Freedom to operate
Both students agree on how they experienced their time at CITC, a resounding ‘we liked it!’ “I really liked the freedom to operate. Perhaps that doesn’t work well for everyone, but I enjoyed it,” Matteo explains. Gerick adds: “It was great that we could actually try things out. We started designing a PCB and we were allowed to have test pieces made.” Despite the freedom there was obviously supervision. “We could always ask questions,” says Matteo.
When asked to characterize their CITC internship in three words, they choose freedom, friendly and innovative. Gerick: “We would definitely recommend CITC as an internship provider.” They are now both moving on to another internship. Matteo will most likely start work at a company that makes injection molds for the production of car parts. And Gerick is pursuing an internship in embedded systems. Normally, these are master internships, but he hopes to have a chance with his experience as vocational student.
Wanted: new students
October 30, 2023 – Reliability. According to our Ph.D. researcher Henry Antony Martin, this is an essential performance metric in realizing high-efficiency, high-power density devices. In his work, Henry mainly focuses on reliability monitoring and thermal management.
He explains: “Nowadays, we are very aware of environmental problems and the need for sustainability. This awareness has made energy-efficient systems, renewable energy technology, electric cars, and smart grids more important. To ensure that these systems work well and last long, reliability is the key. It’s the ultimate guarantee that the systems continue to work and perform as they should.”
Extensive lab infrastructure
Henry continues: “At CITC, we are committed to supporting the packaging community with our execution excellence in advanced semiconductor and photonic packaging innovation and assembly processes. With reliability testing, we gain quantitative insights into our packaged products and evaluate them to improve the packaging processes.”
CITC has an extensive laboratory infrastructure with equipment for reliability testing/monitoring methods, characterization, and advanced imaging techniques:
- Thermo-mechanical cycling lifetime testing
- Probe stations for PQFN
- Advanced imaging techniques
Thermo-mechanical cycling lifetime testing
Conducting accelerated lifetime tests for packaging components is essential in reliability engineering. The thermo-mechanical cycling lifetime (TMCL) testing framework allows CITC to rigorously evaluate the durability and long-term performance of micro and power electronic packaging components.
Henry: “Such accelerated TMCL testing is usually performed offline with packaged devices that are measured intermittently. However, we have the unique capability to conduct both offline and online condition monitoring during TMCL testing. Online monitoring of device condition includes characterizing electrical and thermal performance at different ambient temperatures to effectively evaluate package performance degradation.”
Probe stations for PQFN
Advanced imaging techniques
To effectively analyze failures and improve packaging processes, CITC has equipment such as confocal laser microscope(s), scanning electron microscope (SEM), and scanning acoustic microscope (SAM).
Henry has spent a lot of time working with the SAM due to its importance in package reliability analysis. He explains why he considers it so useful: “Scanning acoustic microscopy is a powerful, non-destructive method for identifying electronic packaging defects. Acoustic microscopy consists of a piezoelectric transducer that generates ultrasound pulses that are transmitted to the sample through a water medium.
Water is used as a coupling medium in SAM due to its excellent ultrasonic conductivity and relatively low acoustic impedance. As the ultrasonic waves interact with material interfaces, they undergo reflection and scattering, producing an echo signal that is converted into an electrical output. An image processor then digitizes this signal. The raster scanning motion of the acoustic transducer generates ultrasonic pulses at high frequencies that are reflected from the sample, thereby capturing the depth information.”
He continues: “It is important to acknowledge that SAM, like any imaging technique, has its limitations. The penetration depth of acoustic waves typically ranges from approx. 1 mm to 2 mm for most materials and image quality is highly dependent on the properties of the sample being imaged. When designing new package types, and improving the package assembly processes, SAM is essential to understand the failure modes without any destructive methods.”
If you are interested in (one of) these reliability techniques, please contact CITC.
October 25, 2023 – The practical part of the CITC/HAN Semiconductor Packaging University Program started last week. First participants: four professors from the Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá.
Earlier this year, CITC’s education consultant Joop Bruines was invited to give a presentation in the virtual conference cycle about R&D of the Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá. As a result, several Panamanian professors and PhD students showed interest in the Semiconductor Packaging University Program.
Getting up early for online classes
Four participants joined the online theoretical part that started in September online. “It meant getting up really early for us, but it was worth it”, says Diego Bouche. “We did not know much about the semiconductor industry and now we were at least prepared for our visit here.” Together with three colleagues Diego arrived in the Netherlands for a week of practical training.
Visiting semicon companies
One of the other participants, Itamar Harris, explains the background of their visit. “The U.S. is interested in locating one or more semiconductor OSATs in Panama. We want to be well prepared and are happy to be able to take a look at the semiconductor industry in Europe.” There was plenty of opportunity for this, as Joop had arranged several visits to semiconductor companies on the Noviotech Campus. In addition to visits to ITEC and Sencio, the group was invited to NXP where they received a plant tour and visited the test program development department.
Working with backend equipment
Back at CITC, the group was trained on the backend equipment in the labs. Under supervision of CITC lab manager Martien Kengen, they learned all the basic principles about typical backend activities such as die placement and wire bonding. Diego comments: “What I really liked was that we were actually allowed to work with the equipment. Wire bonding is a very challenging task, so it is good to have experienced this first-hand.”
At the end of the week and after spending many hours in the lab, the four participants received their well-deserved certificate from Martien and Joop.
The practical part of the CITC university program continues this week with European based participants and the students who follow the full minor program at the beginning of November. If you are interested in expanding your knowledge of semiconductor packaging, check out the university program information.
August 30, 2023 – On Monday August 28, the fourth edition of the Semiconductor Packaging University Program started at the Noviotech Campus in Nijmegen. A record 49 participants registered for this year’s edition. Over the next seven weeks, they will be introduced to the semiconductor industry and delve into the final step of chip manufacturing: chip packaging.
Mix of students and semicon staff
As in all previous editions, the participants consist of a mix of students and professionals. Joop Bruines, education consultant at CITC and also working at HAN, is happy with the full classroom: “We have a nice mix of people. In addition to industry participants from companies such as ITEC and KDPOF, there are fifteen bachelor students from HAN and similar Dutch universities of applied sciences and from Rhein-Whaal Hochschule in Cleves.”
The course also has two new types of participants. Bruines: “Up until now, our students have only been bachelor’s students. This year, however, we have a whole group of PhD candidates who have subscribed. Most of these come from the European-funded Marie Curie Anterra project on non-terrestrial communication in the telecom industry. That means that students not only come from the Netherlands but also from Sweden, Italy, and France. Most of them will take the course online.”
But that is not the only first. “Another new group of students who follow the program online comes from Panama. Four professors from Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá expressed an interest in semiconductor packaging as a whole and decided to register. They will also come to the Netherlands later this year for the practical part of the program.”
CITC and HAN University of Applied Sciences (HAN) developed this program tailored to the specific needs of semiconductor companies. The program focuses on the design and manufacture of semiconductor packages and the associated assembly, reliability, and testing techniques. For the bachelor students the course is part of a full minor including a practical assignment which is carried out at either a semiconductor company or CITC.
In his introductory speech at the kick-off, Bruines emphasized the importance of chips in everyday life and the need for well-trained people in this field. This was confirmed by CITC’s general manager Mark Luke Farrugia who personally welcomed the semiconductor packaging class of 2023. He was happy to meet the new generation of semiconductor staff.
After a short online welcome by Tom Spanjaard of HAN, the Noviotech Campus community manager Yvette Akkermans gave a brief overview of the campus and the ambition to create an attractive ecosystem for companies in health and high-tech. Then, Henk van Zeijl from TU Delft took over with the first lecture of the program.
June 7, 2023 – CITC’s lab has been expanded with a confocal scanning acoustic microscope (CSAM) from acoustic microscopy expert PVA TePla. The microscope provides non-destructive quality control capabilities. It will therefore allow CITC to assess the reliability of the sinter die attachment to the leadframe.
Successfully determining which materials and processes are reliable for packaging is crucial to the mass commercialization of power and WBG semiconductors. Flawless basic materials are the key to flawless products. Cracks, cavities, detachment, or inclusions result in failures in the subsequent production process, which can be avoided with the help of reliable material analysis.
To realize this in our Thermal High-Performance packaging program, CITC will use the CSAM. Three of our colleagues have been extensively trained in its use. Now, the CSAM is available for our own research projects and for third parties who’d like to check the quality of their bonding technologies.
You can take a sneak peek of the CSAM in this video in which Sebastien Libon, one of our researchers, gives a small demonstration.
Read more about the collaboration between CITC and PVA TePla
June 1, 2023 – CITC’s PhD candidate Henry Martin participated in the 73rd iEEE Electronic Components and Technology Conference (ECTC) in Orlando, Florida. He presented his paper titled ‘Heterogeneous integration of diamond heat spreaders for power electronics application’. The paper describes the results of a joint collaboration between CITC, Delft University of Technology and Mintres.
ECTC is an international event that brings together the best in packaging, components and microelectronic systems science, technology, and education. The technical program contains papers covering leading edge developments and technical innovations across the packaging spectrum.
Incorporating diamond heat spreaders in packages
Within its Thermal High-Performance program, CITC often collaborates with both academic and industry parties. In this case, the research partners were Delft University of Technology and Mintres. Mintres manufactures chemical vapor deposition (CVD) diamond. This is a leading thermal management material with thermal conductivity up to 1800 W/mK. That is five times the thermal conductivity of pure copper.
In this particular project, CITC has demonstrated that incorporating diamond heat spreaders in surface mount packages, such as a Power Quad Flat No-Lead (PQFN) packages, provides an efficient heat spreading solution.
At the conference, Henry presented some highlights of the research project:
- Optimizing the semiconductor substrate thickness and incorporating a diamond heat spreader resulted in approximately a 10% reduction in junction temperature compared to a standard package with a non-optimized semiconductor substrate and no heat spreader.
- Addition of a diamond heat spreader reduces the thermal gradient on the active surface of the device.
- The efficiency of the diamond heat spreader scales with the amount of input power applied to the active device.
The conclusion of the paper is that heat sinks alone are not sufficient for concentrated micro-thermal hot spots. Therefore, heat spreaders are the go-to solution with increasing thermal challenges in high-power semiconductor devices.
The paper will soon be available in the iEEE xplore conference proceedings.
May 8, 2023 – CITC is pleased to present its annual results infographic. Looking back at 2022, this was the year in which we were finally able to expand our boundaries. Whereas in previous years, the focus was necessarily on the Netherlands, we now turned our attention to other countries, particulary Europe and Japan.
Physical visits to customers and partners across the border, but also participation in international conferences and exhibitions – it was all possible again and we made ample use of that. This resulted in many new contacts, relationships, and partnerships.
We succeeded in creating a complete ecosystem for each of our three program lines. For each program, we built relationships with material suppliers, equipment suppliers, and internal device manufacturers. As a result, we now bring together knowledge and experience from different angles to create an optimal balance between design, material, and process.
The third edition of our Semiconductor Packaging University Program had more participants than ever before: 27 people attended the program.
And we expanded our lab infrastructure to keep supporting the innovation programs and contributing to education through internships and MSc/PhD programs.
Ready for growth
All in all, we are proud of what we achieved last year. We have experienced how applicable the adage ‘Think globally, act locally’ is to us. By working together locally, we can make a global impact: developing crucial solutions for the societal challenges that await us now and in the future.
For 2023, our main ambition is to grow. Grow in all kinds of areas: in the number of colleagues, in (lab) space, but especially in challenging innovative projects and in the number of students that we train* and coach. So stay tuned for what’s to come!
* Registration for the fourth edition of our Semiconductor Packaging University Program has already begun
BLOG | May 2, 2023 – We all know that role models are important in everyday life. What girl wouldn’t want to have Serena’s tennis skills, sing like Beyonce or, more simply, buy her own flowers like Miley? This world doesn’t just need more Serenas, Beyonces or Mileys. What we desperately need is more women in science. But where are the role models there?
CITC, being an innovation center in chip packaging, is largely populated by men. There is one exception though. The team focused on RF chip packaging consists of five women and only one man. Program manager is Francesca Chiappini. She has a PhD in physics and has been working in science ever since. When we talk about her school and professional career, one thing stands out: she was always surrounded by female role models.
Role models everywhere
Francesca was born and raised in Genoa, Italy. All the women in her family had jobs outside the home. Her grandmothers were both entrepreneurs and her mother and aunt were both academically trained. “My mother studied physics and worked as a secondary school teacher. Her friends and colleagues who regularly came for dinner, all had a technical background”. At her own secondary school, Francesca’s teachers for the technical subjects were all women as well.
With such a background, it seemed obvious that Francesca would opt for a technical further education. However, it took a mini-internship with the biophysics group in the physics department of the University of Genoa to change her study plans from biology to physics. “As a child, I was not a nerd. Not the kind of person who takes things apart and tries to put them back together. I did love space travel and especially the stories behind it. In the mini-internship I got the chance to work with cells from rat brains and it finally made sense: it was going to be physics after all”.
She studied at the University of Genoa and came to the Netherlands in the Erasmus exchange program. As she loved the curriculum on solid state physics, she returned to Radboud University in Nijmegen after graduating to do her PhD on this subject.
Make a difference to the world
After obtaining her PhD, Francesca started working at TNO. Her traineeship consisted of two periods at TNO Delft and then at Holst Centre in Eindhoven. She stayed there after her traineeship ended. In 2019, Holst Centre seconded her to the then newly started Chip Integration Technology Center (CITC). In her role as program manager of the RF Chip Packaging program, Francesca could put together her team. “It is by sheer coincidence that the team is now largely made up of women. In the application procedures, the ladies turned out to be the best candidates. And once they joined the team, they didn’t want to leave”.
Being a program manager means attending a lot of meetings, not only at CITC and Holst Centre, but also with customers and within international projects. “Usually, I am the only woman present. And sometimes, I experience some bias being a woman and young”. Yet, Francesca loves her job. “I have a great job: I do what I want, what I like, and find it challenging. I do cool things, I learn new things, and contrary to popular belief: science is not boring at all. Physics is inspiring and as few people study it, it is special. It is a field that offers many opportunities, especially for women. You can combine your creativity and intelligence to make a difference to the world”.
Working with nerds
What about the prejudice that people who like physics are nerds? “Working with nerds is fantastic! It is all about science. There is no pressure to act a certain way, dress or adopt a lifestyle. You are judged less on things outside of work. That is a relief; you can be who you are. And by the way: you don’t have be a nerd to be good at science”.
Becoming a role model herself, Francesca has one last tip for aspiring female scientists: “Always introduce yourself with your name, title, and the fact that you have certain responsibilities. It may sound petty, but I’ve found it really works to dispel unconscious biases”.
In the picture from left to right: dr. Victoria Gomez-Guillamon Buendia – antenna designer, dr. Francesca Chiappini – program manager and dr. Tindara Verduci – cleanroom research scientist
March 31, 2023 – On Sunday March 26, CITC received very special visitors on their site: 28 students from Weekendschool Nijmegen. For the second consecutive year, we provided a guest lecture within the theme ‘New Technology’ for the Weekendschool first-year students.
The program consisted of a mix of a lecture on chip packaging, a tour of the laboratories and working on a practical assignment: making so called vibrating robot animals – in Dutch: bibberbeestjes. During the lecture, CITC’s business development manager Marco Koelink hardly had enough time to answer all the questions. Some of the students (aged 10-11 years) wanted to know all ins and outs, it was obvious that they already had a previous lecture about chips at NXP.
Touring the labs
The tour of the laboratories always starts with a changeover moment: the students were required to dress up in lab coats. After that, they were all set to see in real life all the equipment they just learned about in the lecture. Lab manager Martien Kengen had prepared several samples to show them the processes of die placing and wire bonding. As always, the microscope was a big hit. The students were amazed at the level of detail they could see from the tiny chip. Weekendschool Nijmegen location manager Sarah van Dronkelaar noticed how eager her students were: “I heard one of my students say: I actually wanted to study architecture, but I like chips much more!”
The students also worked on a practical assignment and with the help of tools as screw drivers and cutting pliers, they managed to create a nice variety of bibberbeestjes. When all groups had their bibberbeestjes ready, it was time for an actual race. This resulted in spinning robot animals, excited children, and a lot of laughter. Unfortunately, not a single bibberbeestje managed to reach the finish line. In his closing remarks, CITC’s program manager education Nathan van den Dool drew a nice parallel with science in practice: “In research, not everything succeeds the first time. You have to persevere. Very often, you have to further refine or adjust a design so that it eventually does what you want it to do.”
Access to education
Providing access to education is one of CITC’s core activities. By enthusing children at a young age about technology in general, and perhaps a technical education and profession in particular, we want to contribute to the future of the semiconductor industry in Europe.
Please feel free to Nathan van den Dool if your school is also interested in a CITC guest lecture or company visit.
March 23, 2023 – On March 1, CITC said goodbye to two interns who had been with us for just over a year: Ted Guijt and Nils Sistermans. The two ROC Nijmegen students in Creative Technology were working on a new demo: an enlarged chip package including a video screen for trade shows.
Chip packaging demo
In February last year, Ted and Nils started at CITC when one of their teachers asked them to follow up on a project started by a fellow student. For both students it was their first internship: two days per week. Nils had no expectations beforehand, but Ted was pleasantly surprised. “I had expected a very strict work environment compared to school, but that was not the case. Everyone was very open and friendly. We often made jokes with each other”.
The assignment they had to continue consisted of designing a demo that would stand out on trade shows. The students came up with a neat design of a chip package including LED lights aiming at a video screen in the middle. After approval of the design, they started to realize it. Nils: “At first glance, the assignment seemed quite simple. Later, however, we ran into many practical problems that we had to consider. For example, when a board cracked, the delivery time for a new board was longer than we expected”.
Pleasant working environment
As the demo is not completely finished yet, two new students will take over in due course. That was a bit of a disappointment but both students liked the internship itself. Nils: “CITC offers a very pleasant working environment, and I felt I could learn something from everyone”. Ted adds: “I really enjoyed the internship. The environment is stimulating, and I also liked the Noviotech Campus. And the colleagues were very helpful”. Both students agree that the internship fitted well within their education. “Many things we had learned at school, we could now apply in practice”, says Nils.
They both now move on to another internship. When asked to characterize their CITC internship in three words, Ted chooses fun, educational and openness. He has also recommended CITC to fellow students: “I told them about my positive experience, the good supervision and the fact that the internship is generally fun”. Nils opts for high-tech, challenging and also fun. “I would definitely recommend this internship to other students. However, I think that it is not suitable for everyone. This kind of internship requires a lot of independence and a good basic knowledge of electronics and mechanics”.