New Technologies and Intelligent Mechanisms for Very High Productivity Handling and Contacting of Miniaturized Semiconductor Devices



The SIMeCH project (Semiconductor Intelligent Mechanisms for Contacting and Handling) stems from the need to create an intelligent mechanism for high productivity pick and place of miniaturized parts, characterized by very low mass (the current dimensions are about 2x2 mm, and they are going to further decrease). This necessity comes from the semiconductor industry, where no handling solution is now available for MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems micromachined in silicon) and microchips, with the required productivity and reliability, for production test. The major difficulty is in performing the parallel handling of a high number of miniaturized systems on chip, while contacting them for testing sakes with an enough compact device and without interfering with their delicate micro electro mechanical functioning.

The project pursues the objective to research new technologies and solutions, including validation through experimental test, and integration in a prototype.

The results will enhance the role of Piedmont in high tech, with solutions able to satisfy the requirements coming from the semiconductor industry worldwide. It will have important spin-offs on local employment, and will provide an innovative technological solution with possible applications wherever the movement of small parts is required.

In this context, the main objective lies in identifying new technologies for the pick and place of the components, for their positioning and contacting, providing the required productivity, reliability and with mechanisms that avoid any possible damage or interference with the MEMS functioning.

These results will generate possibilities of growth in MEMS applications, whose importance is becoming strategic in many fields: automotive, audio/ video, security, microfluidics, computers, communication, sport and medical equipment, entertainment. Miniaturized 3-axial accelerometers, pressure sensors, gyroscopes, microphones, are being used more and more, e.g. for image stabilization, anti-heft, navigation, active safety, freefall sensor, control and feedback of sport performance, remote monitoring of kinematics parameters, etc.

The research integrates mechanical, electronic and informatics competences. The first activity consists in defining all the technical specifications required, including the characteristics of the parts to handle and the expected performance. All the other activities concern the technology research, evaluation and suitable experimentation for each part of the system.

The second activity concerns the movement of the pick and place units. This requires the research of the technologies for the axis structure and the type of actuators to be used. Both the mechanical and control aspects must be considered. One of the main issues in this phase consists in guaranteeing the reliability of the component positioning: since the components are very small and light, they can easily overturn or pop of when accelerating or decelerating.

The third activity focuses on the development of the pick and place mechanism. It involves the research of possible technologies for moving a high number of components, combining the speed of the movement and the capacity to handle in parallel the highest number of components possible, while maintaining compact dimensions of the mechanism.

Both the second and third activities include the research of intelligent sensors for controlling the correct pick and place and movement functioning.

The fourth and fifth activities consist in the research, study and experimentation of mechanisms for positioning and contacting many components in parallel in the test area, and for the transmission of the test stimuli to the components from the test equipment, and vice versa.

Finally, a complete prototype will be designed and realized in order to test the overall effectiveness of the proposed solutions. The prototype validation will take place on a real test case.