An immersion plating process using organic solutions was used to deposit a seed layer of copper and to activate the surface of thin film aluminum surfaces and bond pads. The seeded surfaces were subsequently electroless copper plated and tested for compatibility with soldering assembly. It was demonstrated that the copper particles deposited from the organic solution onto sputter deposited aluminum thin films were able to act as nucleation sites for the subsequent build up of adherent, continuous copper films from conventional electroless plating baths. In addition, the metal deposition from organic solution process was found to be very selective on patterned test vehicles and integrated circuits as metal deposition occurred only on the exposed aluminum bond pads and not on any passivated surfaces. Tests were conducted to determine the solderability of the samples after only seeding in the organic solution as well as the combination of seeding plus electroless copper deposition. In these tests, all attempts to directly solder without any pre-treatment were unsuccessful. Results on solder adherence varied with different substrates. Nevertheless, the concept of depositing metal seed layers in these applications is feasible. Additional work is needed, however, to optimize the deposition process for each particular surface to be soldered.
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Fang, R., Dahlgren, E., O’Keefe, M.J. et al. Characterization and Soldering of Organic Modified Aluminum Thin Films and Bond Pads. MRS Online Proceedings Library 682, 28 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-682-N2.8