This Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant supports the acquisition of a wafer aligner and bonder system that will be placed in a shared user nanofabrication facility at the University of Pennsylvania. Aligned wafer bonding technology provides the ability to precisely stack and join multiple semiconductor substrates to realize new types of micro- and nano-devices. The technology significantly expands the capability of traditional microfabrication processes based on lithography, deposition, and etching by allowing wafers of various materials and thicknesses that are either patterned or unpatterned to be bonded together. As a result, the technology enables the fabrication of 3D microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), microfluidic platforms, and 3D integrated circuits and optical devices. The wafer bonding system will allow for the precise lateral alignment and bonding of large diameter substrates using several important processes, including direct, anodic, glass-frit, metal, and polymer bonding. The acquisition of the wafer aligner and bonder will enhance research capability in multiple areas, including micromechanical devices, small-scale fluidic systems, and the manufacturing of nanoelectronic and optical systems.

This wafer aligner and bonder system will broadly impact both the research and training of a diverse body of students and researchers. Tools in the nanofabrication facility can be accessed by users from the University of Pennsylvania as well as users from other academic institutions, of which there are many in the surrounding region, and users from industry. Furthermore, the fabrication facility is used by undergraduate students in their senior projects and in their undergraduate research, as well as graduate students and postdocs from many different academic departments, many of whom will make use of the requested instrumentation. Thus, the tool will provide access to enhanced micro- and nano-manufacturing capability for a broad range of users developing leading edge small-scale devices.

Project Report

In this NSF-funded major research instrumentation acquisition grant, a state-of-the-art system for aligning and bonding semiconductor wafers was purchased and installed in a shared nanofabrication facility at the University of Pennsylvania. Wafer bonding allows multiple semiconductor substrates to be stacked and bonded in order to fabricate devices such as 3D integrated circuits, microelectromechanical systems, and photonic structures. The wafer bonding system that was acquired can be used to implement a range of processes, including anodic, thermocompression, and polymer bonding. The wafer bonding system will be used by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and other academic and commercial entities to build a broad range of small-scale devices. The wafer bonding system was installed in a shared nanofabrication facility at the University of Pennsylvania that is open to both internal and external users from other academic institutions and companies. The acquisition of this tool enables fundamental research on wafer bonding processes as well as device-related research studies. The intellectual merit of this work comes from the research that this tool will enable. In terms of broader impacts, this tool will be used in courses related to microfabrication at the University of Pennsylvania and will also be featured in various outreach activities that expose K-12 students and the public to nanofabrication.

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University of Pennsylvania
United States
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