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Hybrid tool dices fast and cuts damage

Laser dicer maker Synova and blade saw firm Disco join forces to make a single cutting machine, promising accurate dicing of semiconductor devices composed of layers of different materials.

A machine which brings together laser and saw cutting of semiconductor chips will help optimize dicing for speed and device yield, according to its developers.

Japanese blade saw maker Disco has included the Laser MicroJet technology of Swiss firm Synova in its two-spindle dicing saw tool, with the water-guided laser replacing one of the two saws usually found in the machine.

“This tool is mainly aimed at manufacturing different layers such as silicon on copper, as the laser microjet would avoid chipping in copper, whereas a thick silicon layer can be cut much more quickly with the blade,” said Arnaud Brule of Synova.

A spokesman for Disco was quick to point out that the technology could be also readily applied to metal-mounted germanium or GaAs material systems, for example.

Using the two cutting techniques simultaneously makes the new instrument ideal for current and future IC manufacturing purposes, according to the companies.

The tool was developed specifically for one large, silicon-based, chip manufacturer, but Disco and Synova are hoping that it will suit a much broader market.

The companies say that we will see the first commercially available hybrid systems in late 2007.

Under the collaboration, Disco will build the main dicing saws in Japan and then these will be shipped to Switzerland, where Synova will install its water-jet guided lasers.

By using a hair-thin water jet the laser beam is guided to the wafer, being completely reflected in the air-water interface as in an optical fiber.

The water also cools the work piece to reduce thermal damage.

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