Inseto
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Category Archives: Latest News

Technical Support Engineer

19th May 2022

We're Hiring

We currently have a vacancy for a Field Service Engineer to join our outstanding engineering customer service team.

Your role will entail extensive travel in the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia. Responsibilities will include equipment repair, maintenance and calibration, the installation and commissioning of new systems, process support, plus the training of our customer’s personnel.

Supported machine types include wafer dicing scribes and saws, manual and automatic wire bonding systems, wafer probers, die bond & sort systems, bond testers, soldering systems, furnaces and plasma cleaners-etching systems.

You must have an HND level or higher qualification in an engineering discipline.

Ideally, you will also have a few years of hands-on experience and a good working knowledge of semiconductor assembly and manufacturing processes. If you don’t, relevant training will be provided.

Inseto maintains a very high standard of support and, to fit in with our team, you must be a conscientious, professional individual who is comfortable working independently as well as part of our team.

A competitive remuneration package is on offer.

We’re Inseto, and if you want in send your CV and a covering letter to: enquiries@inseto.co.uk

Strictly no agencies.

Read our latest Power Electronics article featured in “Electronics Weekly”

28th April 2022

Wire Bonded Power Module

POWERING UP – Boundaries are being pushed in all engineering sectors, but few more so than with regards to power electronics. Matt Brown, Managing Director of Inseto and Andy Longford, Technical Consultant at PandA Europe explain.

For every problem solved in the power semiconductor industry, it seems that at least one other is introduced. Where performance is concerned, the goals are typically to increase power density and to operate at higher switching frequencies. These goals have been met by moving from silicon (Si) to wide bandgap materials, and silicon carbide (SiC) has become extremely popular.

To date, only relatively simple structures such as diodes and mosfets have been fabricated in SiC and are commercially available. These tend to be in standard packaging and that is what limits their operating temperature range. However, many applications are calling for more advanced structures and/or the ability to cope with higher temperatures.

In theory, any semiconductor device structure that can be fabricated in Si can, with suitably adjusted manufacturing processes, be made in SiC and a far higher (5x to 10x) power density should be achievable. Tests are necessary to confirm that theory can be put into practice. The University of Warwick, for example, has a dedicated Power Electronics Applications and Technology in Energy Research (PEATER) group for research into SiC power electronics and the development of fabrication processes for bipolar SiC power semiconductor devices. Expertise covers fundamental materials research, device simulation and optimisation, fabrication, characterisation, packaging and reliability testing.

Silicon Carbide Power Die
Semiconductor Device, image courtesy of University of Warwick

It is worth noting that thermal cycling is an important factor. For example, AEC-Q100, the qualification test for packaged integrated circuits for automotive applications, details four ambient operating temperature ranges. The widest range is -40oC to 150oC. But SiC-based devices will, subject to packaging, be able to operate at far higher temperatures. It is not hard to imagine a SiC die at the heart of an automotive component in a vehicle working in a cold environment cycling from sub-zero temperatures to more than 300oC several times a day.

As part of its work with the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) Centre for Power Electronics, the university has already produced SiC insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) with breakdown voltages of 10kV, noting that silicon IGBTs are typically rated up to about 5kV. In addition, full gate control has demonstrated the viability of the technology for applications including high voltage DC transmission.

Testing and characterisation are performed using a SemiProbe PS4L probe system and other equipment in the university’s dedicated wide bandgap semiconductor characterisation facility. Thanks to a degree of automation, the tests are highly repeatable and are producing a wealth of data. This means that for any given manufacturing process and desired device performance goals it is possible to determine the yield from a SiC wafer.

Make the connection

To benefit from a SiC semiconductor die’s ability to operate at a high temperature – noting that SiC power semiconductors can operate with junction temperatures in excess of 500oC – it is best to attach it to a substrate, such as copper, which will provide good heat dissipation. However, solder cannot be used because it has a melting point lower than the kind of temperatures the SiC die might reach. For example, the popular lead-free SAC alloy (96.5% Sn, 3% Ag and 0.5% Cu) melts at about 230oC. Also, at only a few tens of Watts per meter-Kelvin (W/(m.K)), solder is not that good a thermal conductor.

An alternative to soldering is sintering, a manufacturing process that is a combination of heat and pressure. Silver is currently the most popular sintering material. Its melting point is about 960oC and the thermal conductivity of a sinter paste is very good (between 130 and 250W/(m.K)).

Die Bonding of Semiconductor Devices
Silicon Carbide Die attached using Silver Sintering

The sintering process is as follows. A sinter paste comprising monometallic particles, of less than 1μm in size, and a resin are printed (in a similar way to solder paste) onto a substrate in patterns corresponding to the shapes and locations of the SiC dies. The substrate is heated to evaporate the resin and the dies are placed. Pressure, which can be up to a few tens of MPa, is applied as a downwards force. It serves two purposes. First, a lower temperature can be used to bond the materials, yet the bonds achieved will be able to operate at a higher temperature in the field. Second, it reduces the risk of voids, which can lead to delaminating and cracking over time. Note: checking for the presence of voids requires the use of a scanning acoustic microscope as x-ray equipment does not work; the power required to penetrate the metallic substrate is so high it makes the die virtually invisible.

Sintering for die attach is a relatively new technology. For example, the North East’s Driving the Electric Revolution Industrialisation Centre (DER-IC) – funded by UK Research and Innovation and set up in 2020 – has just taken delivery of an AMX P100 sinter press. It employs a Micro-Punch system that allows equal force to be applied to multiple dies of varying thickness. Compared to using a single (flat) punch, this mitigates against the risk of voids forming beneath thinner dies.

DER-IC will provide open access facilities and aims to bring together the UK’s technology and manufacturing expertise in electrification research and development. It is believed DER-IC is the first facility in the UK to take delivery of a sinter press as advanced as the AMX P100.

Supply chain

In many cases, those developing next generation SiC-based power devices are in unknown territory. They have volume (space) and ideal performance characteristics in mind, but can such a device be made?

Few organisations will want to invest in cap-ex equipment, which is why the services offered by the North East’s DER-IC have such an important role to play. The Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult, a DER-IC for the Southwest and Wales, offers services too. Its Power Electronics Laboratory is heralded as one of the country’s most advanced and comprehensive modelling, characterisation, integration and validation facilities for power electronics innovation. It also provides advanced packaging capabilities for power electronics.

Distributors are doing their part too. For instance, Inseto has a Process Development Laboratory at its headquarters in Andover. In 2021, the company invested in a Kulicke & Soffa Asterion wedge bonder to join its materials test and plasma cleaning equipment. A major OEM of power ICs is, at the time of writing, using the facility. Also, several companies have been using the facility recently to develop battery cell wirebonding processes. These companies range from existing battery pack manufacturers exploring new processes to start-ups doing prototype runs. In all cases they have access to equipment they cannot yet afford to invest in.

That, plus access to expertise.

Empowered

In summary, the production of next generation power semiconductor devices requires new types of equipment and processes. But that is to be expected considering the use of materials such as SiC. What is interesting is the amazing level of collaboration between industry and academia, and roles being played by OEMs and distributors to de-risk programmes. Engineers have access to expertise that is confirming if custom (and potentially high volume) power devices can be fabricated. And if so, how.

Inseto is proud to reproduce the above article first published in Electronics Weekly on 27th April 2022, with the kind permission of the editor.

Download a copy of this article HERE.

DER-IC Takes Delivery of an AMX Micro-Punch Sinter Press

21st April 2022

Semiautomatic Sinter Die Attach Equipment
DER-IC North East is the first facility in the UK to install an AMX P100 micro-punch sinter press for the manufacture of power semiconductor components. (Image courtesy of AMX Automatrix.)

Andover, United Kingdom – Inseto, a leading technical distributor of equipment and materials, has supplied Driving the Electric Revolution Industrialisation Centre (DER-IC) North East with equipment to enhance its power electronics, machines and drives (PEMD) capabilities. Of the equipment supplied, an AMX P100 sinter press is the first micro-punch machine to be installed in the UK and will enable the manufacture of high-reliability high-power modules.

Sintering is a manufacturing process that combines pressure (mechanical force) and temperature to bond materials using a sinter paste. The process is increasingly required for the packaging of high-power semiconductor modules that incorporate silicon carbide (SiC) dies which, when channelling high currents, can produce heat at temperatures far higher than the melting point of solder (as traditionally used for conductive die-attach).

As for the AMX P100’s ‘micro-punch’ capability, this relates to how most sinter presses use a flat, single punch to apply force to the top of the dies. But if the dies are of different thicknesses, the same force cannot be applied across all. This means there is a risk of voids forming in the sinter paste beneath thinner dies – which in turn can result in failures in the field because of the high voltages and currents being switched. The AMX P100 can apply equal force to all dies, irrespective of their thickness.

Professor Derrick Holliday, Technical Director for DER-IC North East comments: “The drive by industry to create highly efficient, power dense and integrated power converters places increasing demands on power semiconductor switching devices. Manufacturers must be confident that products operating under these demanding conditions, particularly in safety-critical applications, are reliable. By ensuring the highest integrity bonds, this advanced sintering technology will facilitate the development of novel and advanced semiconductor packages and converter topologies, as well as supporting broader power switching device research, by both industry and academia.”

Inseto has also supplied DER-IC North East with two other pieces of equipment that will be used within the new facility for the manufacture of power modules and packs, as well as other components needed for PEMD.

The first machine is a Kulicke & Soffa Asterion hybrid wedge bonder. Features include an expanded bond area, robust pattern recognition capabilities and extremely tight process controls. Together, these features deliver heightened productivity, bonding quality and reliability.

The second machine is an Amadyne FAB1 (flexible automatic die bonder). It is a modular micro assembly production platform designed for complex high mix and high-quality products. Features include short setup times (i.e. fast product changeovers, ideal for prototyping and process development) and remote system support / diagnostics.

Rachel Chambers, DER-IC North East Chief Operating Officer, comments: “It’s critical for us to ensure we provide best-in-class equipment and capabilities to support companies on developing, prototyping and scaling up their manufacturing processes. The sintering equipment in particular will give those using our facilities accesses to advanced manufacturing capabilities, and my team and I are looking forward to working closely with Inseto in helping all users meet their PEMD goals.”

AMX Patented MicroPunch Sintering Equipment
DER-IC North East’s new sinter press is a ‘micro-punch’ system that can apply equal pressure to the top surfaces of dies of varying thicknesses, thus reducing the risk of voids forming beneath the thinner dies. (Image courtesy of AMX Automatrix.)

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Inseto is exclusive distributor for AMX’s range of equipment for sintering of die and leadframe assemblies, plus automatic inline acoustic microscopy. in the UK, Ireland and Nordic regions.

New mini-PS4L Lost Cost Probe Station Introduced

4th December 2021

Andover, United Kingdom SemiProbe has introduced a new family of small-footprint, low cost probe station for basic characterization for small sample testing of samples from die up to 100mm diameter.

Manual Wafer Probe Station mini-PS4L
SemiProbe mini-PS4L Low Cost Probe Station – Manual Version

The new “mini-PS4L” low cost probe stations are available in either manual or semiautomatic configurations to address multiple applications and testing requirements on devices that are 100 mm or less in size.

Developed in response to market requests for smaller footprint lower cost solutions for basic characterization of small samples, the systems feature a wide-range of modular accessories including DC or HF versions for testing partial or full wafers, individual die or packaged parts etc.

The mini-PS4L series is an expansion of the popular and patented Probe System for Life (PS4L) systems that address an even wider variety of wafer sizes and applications. The PS4L system is the most modular on the market and provides a perpetual field upgrade path. A unique “mini-PS4L” proposition offered by SemiProbe, is a full credit (conditions apply) if customers upgrade to the larger PS4L system.

Inseto is exclusive distributor for SemiProbe in UK, Ireland and Northern Europe.

For more information on SemiProbe Probe Stations – Wafer Probing Equipment, please click HERE.

Wire Bonding Process Development Laboratory

6th October 2021

Andover, United Kingdom – Inseto Invests in Wedge Bonder for its Process Development Laboratory and Launches Two Bonder Operation Training Courses

Ultrasonic Wire Bonder
Kulicke & Soffa Asterion Wedge Bonder Installed at Inseto’s new “Process Development Laboratory”

Inseto, a leading technical distributor of equipment and materials, has invested in a Kulicke & Soffa (K&S) Asterion wedge bonder. Located in Inseto’s new Process Development Laboratory along with materials test and plasma cleaning equipment, the automatic bonder is suitable for the large-wire, fine-wire and ribbon bonding of hybrid circuits, semiconductor devices, sensors, and automotive power modules and battery packs.

Inseto has also launched two training courses: one for wedge bonding, the other for ribbon bonding. Both are delivered by Inseto’s factory trained and highly experienced engineers. Course content is tailored to meet a trainee’s exact requirements and modules include bond theory, bonding tool and wire/ribbon selection, machine setup and operation, process development and bond quality control, and maintenance and repair.

Matt Brown, Inseto’s Managing Director, comments: “These are challenging times for manufacturers. To take full advantage of industry’s latest manufacturing techniques companies must first develop and optimise their processes. They then need to ensure they’re getting the most from their equipment when they move into volume production. Early access to best-in-class equipment and thorough training for operators are therefore essential.”

Brown goes on say that most equipment distributors simply carry demo machines – on loan from their suppliers and which they intend to sell. Inseto, on the other hand, is investing in kitting out its own Process Development Laboratory.

“While all distributors say they’re committed to supporting their customers, we’re demonstrating our commitment through investment,” continues Brown. “Our laboratory is a quiet environment that doesn’t have distractions you find in a manufacturing environment. And with our specialists to hand it’s the ideal place to build and evaluate prototypes, and to receive training.” Inseto’s Process Development Laboratory is fully operational. Also, the company is now taking bookings for its bonder operation training courses, which can be delivered on customer premises if required.

Inseto is exclusive distributor for Kulicke and Soffa’s range of wire bonding and die bonding equipment & materials in the UK, Ireland and Nordic regions.

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Download a PDF copy of this news release HERE.

Oxide wafer coatings: their properties and application methods

28th September 2021

Want to learn more about oxide wafer coatings, read our technical article published on LinkedIn HERE.

Thermal Oxide Wafer Processing
Thermal Oxide Wafer Processing

When applied to a wafer, an oxide coating adds a dielectric or passivation layer, needed to give a semiconductor, MEMS or BioMEMS device its desired electrical properties.
 
In our “Oxide wafer coatings: their properties and application methods” article, we discuss the two most common oxidation processes – Atmospheric Thermal Oxide (ATOx) and Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapour Deposition (PECVD) – and provide examples of applications that benefit from both.
 
We discuss oxide growth rate, and how it is influenced by temperature, the presence of other chemicals (water/steam in the case of wet ATOx), doping and crystal orientation.
 
Also, did you know, that during the oxidation process, oxide grows into the wafer as well as onto its surface. For silicon, the ratio is about 46% into the surface and 54% on top of the original surface. In other words, the overall wafer thickness does not increase by the depth of the oxide layer, as some of the Si is consumed during the oxidation process.
 
Inseto produces and supplies an extensive range of high-quality semiconductor wafers and substrates worldwide, used for production and research purposes.

For further information on Inseto’s range of oxide coated semiconductor wafers, please visit: HERE.

Adhesives for Battery Pack Production

24th September 2021

Inseto will be showcasing DELO’s range of adhesives at the Battery Tech Expo and Battery Technology Show this October.

Adhesives for Battery Pack Production
Adhesives for Battery Pack Assembly

Andover, United Kingdom – Used extensively in #EV #batterypacks, #adhesives play important roles. Here are just a few examples of what they are used for and the properties the adhesives must possess.

In carriers (pictured), adhesives are used for the bonding of cylindrical cells. Also, retainer bars are bonded onto the cells plus the carrier is bonded to a busbar. The adhesives also provide vibration protection and, hand in hand with that, help reduce noise.

The adhesives must also be flame retardant and bond to flame retardant materials. The coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) needs to be close to that of the other materials, and curing time needs to be short for volume production scenarios.

Adhesives are also used for weld and pin sealing in #batterymodules and #powerpacks and provide corrosion protection. The power management electronics used in packs also use adhesives; for die-attach and to protect components.

If you’d like to know more, come and talk to us at any of the following shows in October

  • 12th – Battery Tech Expo at Silverstone
  • 19th & 20th – FAST Show (co-locating with EDS) in Coventry (Ricoh Arena)
  • 26th & 27th – Battery Technology Show in Coventry (Ricoh Arena)

Schedule a meeting: https://www.inseto.co.uk/contact/

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For further information on these products please visit: https://www.inseto.co.uk/adhesives.php.

Sintering SiC Die Attach for High Power Electronic Devices

3rd August 2021

Example: Sintering SiC Die Attach of Semiconductor Devices

Check out the our latest “Knowledge Base” article on sintering SiC die first produced for e-mobility technology magazine (Summer Issue #9) and reproduced with kind permission of the editor on our website.

Silicon carbide (SiC) is the semiconductor material of choice for high power semiconductor transistors. They can switch far higher voltages and currents than devices fabricated from silicon. They can also run much hotter, presenting packaging challenges.

A popular substrate on to which SiC die is attached is copper. It is a good conductor of power and heat. However, the thermal conductivity of a typical die attach solder is not great, and melting points max out at circa 220°C.

An alternative to soldering is sintering. A paste comprising monometallic particles and a resin is printed onto a substrate in patterns corresponding to the shapes and locations of the SiC dies. The substrate is heated to evaporate the resin and the dies are placed. The sintering process itself sees a combination of heat and pressure.

Inseto is exclusive distributor for AMX’s range of equipment for sintering of die and leadframe assemblies, plus automatic inline acoustic microscopy. in the UK, Ireland and Nordic regions.

Rapid™ Pro Ball Bonders from Kulicke & Soffa Help Filtronic to Meet a Significant Increase in Demand for RF Modules for 5G

18th May 2021

Kulicke & Soffa RAPID™ Pro automatic wire bonder installed in the Filtronic cleanroom

Inseto has supplied two Kulicke & Soffa RAPID™ Pro automatic wire bonders to designer and manufacturer of advanced RF communication solutions Filtronic. The two bonders are high speed and deliver high levels of repeatability, provided through real-time monitoring and diagnostics, and are helping Filtronic meet a six-fold increase in demand for its Orpheus E-band transceiver modules, used for 5G and other high data rate wireless applications, following an order from a major customer in the telecoms sector.

In addition to being used for the manufacture of Orpheus modules, the RAPID Pros are used on Filtronic’s next generation transceiver, Morpheus II, which is both smaller and 50% lighter than the previous version, enabling class leading 10Gbps mmWave backhaul.

The RAPID Pros enable fast switch over, giving Filtronic the flexibility to also manufacture two Transmit Receive Modules for phased array radars for the aerospace and defence markets on the same production line.

Richard Smith, Product Engineering Manager of Filtronic, comments: “All three of our main lines are hybrid assemblies, with multiple MMICs and other components that require high precision wire bonding. The RAPID Pro bonders help us solve two major manufacture challenges. The first being that, at these high frequencies, bond wire lengths and shapes affect the EM characteristics. Being able to precisely program the bond shape and maintain it within and between batches of a given product ensure consistent RF performance. Accuracy and repeatability are musts. The second challenge is maintaining throughput and increasing capacity. Since bringing in the K&S bonders we’ve seen a massive improvement in speed, largely down to the modern vision systems, and it takes about a minute to process a module with hundreds of bonds.

Bond quality has also improved because Filtronic has far better control over bond parameters than before. Smith concludes: “Automated bond adhesion quality is consistently higher, thus reducing the need for manual intervention. Combined with fast automated bonding, this results in an overall much higher production rate than before and we anticipate a return on investment in about three years”.

Inseto is exclusive distributor for Kulicke and Soffa’s range of ultrasonic bonding equipment & materials in the UK, Ireland and Nordic regions.

Read about optimising EV Battery & Power Module, wire and ribbon bonded interconnects

13th April 2021

Battery Wire and Ribbon Ultrasonic Bonding Interconnects
Ultrasonic Wire and ribbon Bonding of Lithium-Ion Battery Packs

Electric vehicle battery pack manufacturers must get the most from well-established and proven manufacturing technologies if they are to rise to increasingly technical challenges and keep costs as low as possible.

That’s the essence of the cover story of this month’s issue of Electronic Product Design & Test, for which Inseto was one of the expert companies interviewed and quoted.

During recent years we’ve supplied a variety of battery interconnection wirebonders to commercial battery pack manufacturers and universities alike.

A condensed version the EPD&T cover story is online here: https://bit.ly/3sbQZ83

If you’re interested in hearing how we can help you, we’re exhibiting at Battery Cells & Systems Expo at the NEC, Birmingham, on 7th & 8th July. https://lnkd.in/dk7Tagf

#lithiumionbatteries #evbatteries #wirebond

Inseto is exclusive distributor for Kulicke and Soffa’s range of ultrasonic bonding equipment & materials in the UK, Ireland and Nordic regions.