Jan. 21, 2008 – Panasonic Factory Solutions Co. says it has developed a new wafer dicer that is 30x faster than a typical diamond cutter to separate individual semiconductor devices on a silicon wafer, targeting a market niche in thinner (<100μm) wafers with smaller chips such as those used in portable digital products, notes the Nikkei Business Daily.
The new dicer processes the entire wafer at once using highly reactive plasma. Before dicing, the wafer backside is coated with photoresist and exposed using normal photolithography process, defining the pattern where the plasma cuts the chips apart. Processing time is 15 wafers/hr for a 300mm/50μm thick wafer, yielding about 70,000 chips — vs. a diamond cutter that takes 2hrs to process just one wafer, according to the paper. Plus, using plasma to dice the wafer means only ~20μm worth of material between chips is lost, less than half the 50-60μm width removed by a diamond cutter, meaning more wafer surface area is usable. The new method also can cut chips in different shapes, e.g., circles and hexagons.
Parent group firm Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. plans to start marketing the system in the spring. Pricing was not disclosed.