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Memory, Logic, Power Devices & Image Sensors markets will drive the thin wafers market and related handling technologies
This Yole Développement report describes why thinner wafers will be needed in the future, especially for consumer applications. Indeed, consumer electronics is a big driver for smaller, higher-performing, lower-cost device configurations for use in various applications, such as memory and wireless devices. These new configurations, in turn, are pushing demand for thin (< 100 μm) and even ultra-thin semiconductor wafers (below 40μm) with the following benefits:
Thin wafer shipment 2011-2017 forecast in 300 mm eq.
Figure 1: Thin wafer forecast by application
However, as wafer thickness decreases to 100μm and below, manufacturing challenges arise. Ultra-thin wafers are less stable and more vulnerable to stress, and the die can be prone to breaking and warping - not only during grinding but also during subsequent processing steps. Yole Développement's report describes why special thin wafer handling processes (i.e. temporary bonding) are necessary, especially when wafers are dual-side processed or have high topographies.
This report deals not only with the thin wafers market and applications, but also with related processes, equipment, and materials for temporary bonding.
Thin wafer shipment forecasts are analyzed, as there is definitely a growing need for thin wafers (below 100 μm) for numerous applications: 3D ICs, MEMS, CMOS Image Sensors, Power Devices, LEDs, RF Devices, Memory & Logic, Interposers and Photovoltaic. The report shows that, by 2017, the ratio of THIN wafers vs. TOTAL number of wafers (in 300 mm eq.) will be 74%, corresponding to > 80M 12" eq. wafers.
Applications are also described in the report. The 2012 market drivers for thin wafers are 3D ICs, and also Power Devices and CIS BSI for ultra-thin wafers. Indeed, the BSI application is the big driver for ultra thin wafers; this application is currently booming. 2011 was a big year for 300 mm wafer bonding tools, thanks to BSI. This application requires ultra thin layers (< 10μ) on 12".
Forecasts by wafer thickness are analyzed in the report. In 2017, most of the 12" wafers will be 200μm thick for logic application; also, most of the thinned wafers will be in the 10-99μ thickness range. This includes memory, as well as interposers and power device applications.
Thin wafer handling will enjoy increased importance in the coming years, but as chips get thinner and wafer diameter increases, thinning/handling procedures are required. This implies development in wafer thinning, wafer dicing and wafer temporary bonding.
Yole Développement's report provides a temporary wafer bonding equipment forecast which shows that 10% of the total thin wafer shipment will experience a temporary bonding step by 2017. So, while temporary bonding equipment is still a small market today, it is expected to grow as the need for thin wafer handling grows. In fact, we estimate the market for temporary bonding tools to be more than $250M by 2017. Currently, shipped bonder/debonders are for Power and 3D ICs applications. However, we believe 3D ICs will become the predominant application for temporary bonders > 2015.
Thin wafer handling solutions
Figure 2: Thin wafer handling technologies
Temporary bonding implies know-how in process and chemistry, and an understanding of the final application requirements. Temporary bonding is a complex technology, requiring an interface material (sometimes called the “Magic” material) that is strong enough to withstand post-processing but which can be easily removed afterwards. As the main concern for temporary bonding materials (wax, tape or glue) is temperature stability, the material must be strong enough to withstand processing steps (metallization, etching, grinding). Another issue is the choice of carrier material. Carrier lifetime depends on its capability to withstand steps such as grinding, etc., and carrier lifetime should be at least tens of times, though this is not yet the case today.
Temporary bonders/debonders market value forecast
Figure 3: Temporary bonder/debonder forecast
Compared to the 2011 installment, this report now contains:
1366 Technologies, 3M, AAC, ABB, Accretech, ADI, AGC, ALSI, Altera, AMAT, AMD, Amkor, Ampulse, ANJI, Aptina / Micron, ASE, AstroWatt, Avago, Brewer Science, Cabot, Canon, Corning, Cree, Crystal Solar, Dalsa, Danfoss, Discera, Disco, Dongjin, DoubleCheck Semiconductors, Dupont, Dynatex, Ebara, EM Marin, Epistar, Epoxy Technologies, ERS, ESI, EVG, Fairchild, Fraunhofer IZM, Freescale, GCL Solar, Hamamatsu, Hitachi Chemical, Hynix, IBM, Imec, Infineon, Intel, International Rectifier, Invensense, Ipdia, LDK, Leti, LG Innotek, Lintec, Lumileds, MEMC, Micron, Misui Chemical, Mitsubishi Electric, Nichia, Nitronex, Nitta Corp., Nitto Denko, Okamoto, Omnivision, ON Semi, Osram, Panasonic, PlanOptik, Protec, Qualcomm, REC, Renesas, ReneSola, RFMD, Robert Bosch, Roockwood, S'Tile, Samsung, SanRex, Schott, Sensonor, Seoul Semiconductor, Shinko, Sigen, Silex, Skyworks, Solarforce, SPIL, STMicroelectronics, Strasbaugh, STATSChipPAC, Sumitomo Chemical, SUSS MicroTEC, Synova, Taiko, Tekcore, TEL, TMAT, TOK, Toyoda Gosei, Triquint, Twincreeks, VisEra, WLCSP, Xilinx, Xintec, Yushin.
Dr. Eric Mounier has a PhD in microelectronics from the INP in Grenoble. Since 1998 he is a co-founder of Yole Développement, a market research company based in France. He is in charge of market analysis for MEMS, equipment & material. He is Chief Editor of Micronews, and MEMS'Trends magazines.
Amandine Pizzagalli joined Yole Développement Advanced Packaging and MEMS manufacturing teams after gradua-ting as an engineer in Electronics, with a specialization in Semiconductors and Nano Electronics Technologies. She worked in the past for Air Liquide with an emphasis on CVD and ALD processes for semiconductor applications.