Many activities in our daily lives use products and devices based on silicon chips - from computers and televisions to medical equipment and defense systems. As these products and applications become increasingly complex and miniature, so must the chips.
Chips are manufactured on a silicon wafer. Each chip is surrounded by electrical contacts (‘plots’) through which data enters and exits. The plots are connected to each other through extremely fine wires. In 1994 the distance between the chip and plot was 200µm, and between plots 110µm; 10 years later these figures were reduced to 60µm and 45µm respectively.
During their manufacture, chips are tested at a number of stages. The final test evaluates the performance of the chip according to its end use. However this test proved problematic with the new generation of high density, fine pitch wafers - the existing needle-based technology was no longer viable as it did not allow the mass production of test cards.
Paul McCallum | alfa
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