Chips: New Motorola Gold-Free Metallization System Substantially Boosts Reliability Of RF Devices; Up to Ten Times More Reliable Than Gold — Says Sandia Labs Report

Chips: New Motorola Gold-Free Metallization System Substantially Boosts Reliability Of RF Devices; Up to Ten Times More Reliable Than Gold — Says Sandia Labs Report – Company Business and Marketing

A proprietary new metallization system developed by Motorola for its RF LDMOS transistors is up to ten times more reliable than existing gold interconnect devices, according to a report issued by Sandia Labs.

The new process, called a “hot metal” system, is the first gold-free system for advanced, high-performance RF devices and offers several major advantages for future device development. The new process is aimed at advanced VLSI designs and is capable of being processed in the newest high-definition MOS wafer fabs that today cannot handle gold metal systems due to severe contamination issues.

“The introduction of this new ‘hot metal’ system is a key element in our long-term strategy to leverage Motorola’s world class manufacturing capabilities,” said Daniel Artusi, vice president and general manager of the Wireless Infrastructure Systems Division. “With access to the more advanced VLSI fabrication facilities, we can unleash the kind of performance that advanced wireless communication systems need.”

The new process makes possible the formation of thicker metal films on chips which enables the design of higher power RF systems with enhanced reliability. It also allows for greater flexibility in values of on-board capacitors and inductors — making possible advanced designs for everything from single high power discrete devices to complex power ICs.

The “hot metal” system makes possible the use of metal designs that have a much lower current density than equivalent gold designs and exhibit much lower electromigration effect over time.

According to the Sandia Labs report (available at the following URL), test wafers utilizing Motorola’s patented “hot metal” system (US patent 5,554,899) exhibited a median time to failure (MTTF) in excess of four hundred years, more than ten times the MTTF of traditional gold-top metal systems.

“The explosion of wireless communications on a global scale has meant that pure performance is necessary, but no longer sufficient to win in this competitive marketplace,” said John Powell, WISD marketing director.

“RF wireless designers need product consistency, ease of use, and a compelling roadmap to help them meet the demands of advanced communication standards like CDMA IS-95 and future standards like Wideband CDMA, EDGE, and UMTS. This critical new development makes Motorola RF LDMOS the optimal technology for these applications.”

Although the introduction of a gold-free top metal for high power RF LDMOS transistors is new, Motorola has a wealth of experience in developing top metal systems for RF applications. To date, Motorola has shipped more than 15 million RF LDMOS transistors using gold-free top metal for applications such as consumer wireless phones and land mobile radios.

Artusi observed, “Thirty years ago, in the infancy of RF device technology, gold was the only way to go. Today, with a rich portfolio of technologies developed for creating VLSI parts, the game is very different. Companies limited to working solely with gold metal systems are really only hanging on to the past.”

As the world’s No. 1 producer of embedded processors, Motorola’s Semiconductor Products Sector offers multiple DigitalDNA solutions which enable its customers in the consumer, networking and computing, transportation, and wireless communications markets, to create new business opportunities. Motorola’s semiconductor sales were US$8.0 billion in l997.

Motorola’s embedded semiconductors are essential digital building blocks for consumer, networking and computing, transportation and wireless communications markets. Other businesses include automotive electronics, components, computing and energy products. Sales in 1997 were $29.8 billion.

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