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Keithley, Mesatronic team up for wafer probe solution

Posted: 14 Nov 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Keithley? Mesatronic? probe card? probe cards? RFIC?

Keithley Instruments Inc. has partnered with Mesatronic Group to develop advanced probe cards for semiconductor parametric testers used in RF and low-current DC applications.

The probes for these cards are expected to be suitable for smaller 30?m test pads toward which the industry is migrating. Currently, performing simultaneous low-current DC and RF measurements is complicated because existing cards have only a few dedicated RF probe pins and such cannot be used for accurate low-current DC measurements.

"When the new probe cards are available later this year, they can be used with Keithley parametric testers for simultaneous extraction of RF and very low level DC current parameters on any combination of probe pins that contact a semiconductor wafer," said William Merkel, marketing director for the Keithley Parametric Test Product Group.

The new "any pin" RF/DC probe card design will allow higher test system throughput, because both RF and DC measurements can be made with a single wafer insertion, without swapping probe cards as well as loading and aligning a wafer a second time. Moreover, users of Keithley's RF/DC parametric test systems can standardize on one card for multiple semiconductor test applications.

In addition to reducing probe card inventory, the solution will help prevent measurement errors that occur when the wrong probe card is selected for a test setup. The new probe card technology should be of particular interest to manufacturers of RF ICs, RFIDs and devices for mobile and wireless handsets and infrastructure.

Developing the new probe card requires the creation of a spatial transformer that interfaces the probe card with a flexible membrane circuit structure in the center of the prober, where probe needles are attached. Keithley will create the low loss broadband signal path through the probe card that is crucial for its implementation. Because all connection geometries in the design will be similar, this is expected to lower manufacturing costs and the price of the parametric test systems.

Mesatronic's proprietary "die-on-die" technology for vertical probing will be used in the probe cards, allowing a reduced scrub length suitable for 30?m probe pads. Conventional cantilever probe technology is currently restricted to pad sizes larger than 50?m.

When this new probe card technology is combined with Keithley's S600 Series parametric testers, the result will be single insertion DC/RF wafer measurements for automated process monitoring. This will include fully automated single-pass calibration that is quickly executed during testing without requiring human verification.

The new probe cards will enable users to measure RF and low current DC signals on any combination of prober pins by changing the type of cabling and termination used for the RF and DC pins.




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