Changing the way chips are made

Ziptronix is set to commercialise a technology that could change the way electronics companies integrate semiconductors in their products.

The US-based Research Triangle Institute (RTI) has spun off a company to commercialise a technology that could change the way electronics companies integrate semiconductors in their products. The new company, Ziptronix, has already secured $6.5 million in venture capital.

Paul Enquist, Ziptronix VP of Research & Development, explains that, ‘the Ziptronix process starts with a ‘host wafer’ containing many chips. Then, other wafers or individual chips are bonded to the host at room temperature. The substrate from the second wafer or individual chips is then removed, leaving only a few microns containing the active electronics. Electrical interconnects are then made between the host and the bonded wafer or die using a standard via-based interconnect process identical to that used in semiconductor fabrication facilities to electrically interconnect different layers of a single wafer.’

This process can be repeated, adding more chips to the structure. The end result is an integration of multiple chips, even chips made in different semiconductor materials, into a single ‘chip,’ without leaving a wafer fabrication facility.

‘With Ziptronix, you can integrate multiple semiconductor wafers comprised of many different chips without individually packaging each chip first,’ said Dale Rowe, RTI Vice President for Technology Ventures. ‘This avoids the ‘integration penalty’ you suffer when you connect chips in packages or circuit boards. For example, today’s high-speed microprocessors go onto circuit boards that operate at only about a tenth of the processors’ speed.’

The company plans to license the technology to large semiconductor firms, to produce integrated parts for electronic firms, and eventually to produce standard parts employing the Ziptronix technology. Initially the company will co-develop parts for large semiconductor firms.

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