Electroless nickel bumping of aluminium bondpads. Part 2 - electroless nickel plating

Electroless nickel has been used for many decades to provide a hard, corrosion resistant surface finish to engineering components. In recent years its application has been extended to the electronics industry for the production of solderable surfaces on printed circuit boards, which utilize a further thin gold coating to prevent oxidation of the nickel surface. The recent interest in the use of flip-chip technology in electronics manufacture has required the development of low cost methods for solder bumping of semiconductor wafers. The electroless nickel process has been considered as a suitable candidate for the deposition of a solderable under bump metallization (UBM) layer onto the Al bondpads. However, the extension of existing electroless nickel plating processes to this new application requires greater understanding of the technique. In particular, the coating of the small isolated bondpads on the wafer surface introduces difficulties that make the use of many commercially available solutions impossible. This paper reports the results of a number of experiments carried out to investigate the electroless nickel bumping of Al bondpads and highlights the issues that need to be considered when selecting materials and techniques.