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Electronics Packaging and Interconnection: Is there a limit to miniaturisation?


The last sixty years have seen very dramatic changes in the electronics manufacturing industry, which has had a major impact on society (1). This started with the invention of the transistor and printed circuit board (PCB) in the late 1940's, through the development of the integrated circuit in the late 1950's, to the introduction of very high density area array interconnect technologies in the 1990's. Although cost and reliability are very important drivers in this globally competitive industry, the demand for product miniaturisation to meet customer requirements continues to be the key manufacturing challenge. A major trend in the design of hand-held and pocket electronic consumer products is to minimise chip packaging size to meet product requirements in terms of weight and size. At the same time the number of connections (device input-output) to a PCB is increasing to match existing and new digital/communication applications. This pressure for further miniaturisation presents new manufacturing challenges to the industry, as well as the impetus for researching novel packaging and interconnection materials/processes for meeting the emerging product requirements. The question facing the global industry is – "What is the limit to miniaturisation?" Using case studies of his own research at the University of Greenwich (formerly with the University of Salford), Professor Ekere will highlight the Microsystems assembly technologies that are currently being developed to meet 21st Century product requirements, the interconnection and assembly trends, and the industrial and international collaboration that is helping to keep the UK at the forefront of the research on the miniaturisation of electronics interconnection and packaging.

Note: (1) Electronics manufacturing is the world's largest manufacturing sector and in spite of the recent downturn, the sector has continued to show significant growth in some sectors with the Asian Tiger economies such as China leading the way. Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) is one of the fastest growing technology areas, with sales of around $6 billion in 2006 - expected to grow at an average annual rate of more than 20% over the rest of the decade. MEMS are devices that integrate mechanical elements, sensors, actuators, and electronics on a common silicon substrate. Many typically have dimensions in the 1 micron to 100 micron range. Another growth sector is automotive electronics – with world demand for automotive electronics for original equipment manufacturer (OEM) use forecast to grow by 7.5 percent per year through 2011 to $145 billion, much more rapidly than light vehicle production itself.

Speaker Biographical Sketch

Professor Ndy Ekere is currently the Head of School of Engineering at Greenwich, a Professor of Manufacturing Processes Engineering and the head of the Electronics Manufacture Engineering Research Group (EMERG). He holds the first class BEng (honours) degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nigeria (1981), an MSc in Flexible Manufacturing Systems and Robotics from the Loughborough University, UK (1984) and PhD in Manufacturing Engineering from UMIST, Manchester, UK (1987). Before moving to the UK to undertake postgraduate Studies under a government scholarship, he worked as a Mechanical Construction Engineer with Shell Petroleum Development Company between 1982 and 1983. He started his academic career in 1987 as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at UMIST and after a short period of postdoctoral research, he moved to Nottingham Trent University in 1988 to take up a temporary Lecturing position. One year later, he joined the University of Salford as a lecturer in Manufacturing Engineering, where he founded the Electronics Manufacturing Engineering Research Group (EMERG) in 1992. In recognition of the Group's strong reputation both in the UK and beyond, he was promoted to senior lecturer in 1996 and then to professor of Electronics Manufacturing Engineering in 1998. Professor Ekere took up the position of Head of School of Engineering at the University of Greenwich in June 2002 (with EMERG re-locating from University of Salford to the University of Greenwich).

The focus of the recent research work carried out by the EMERG is to identify, explore and develop suitable assembly and packaging technologies both to meet the challenges of miniaturisation facing the electronics industry and to support virtual development of new and low cost electronic products. As the trend towards minimising chip packaging size and increasing chip I/O count continues, one of the key challenges facing industry is to develop low cost assembly solutions based on using conventional equipment. The group has worked closely with its industrial partners to develop a low cost, high volume flip-chip assembly route based on the assembly of solder-bumped chips on organic substrates, and the use of lead-free materials for flip-chip applications, fluxless soldering for MEMS, and new materials for MEMS interconnect (including soldering of Si-wafers to glass/Cu). As new materials emerge, and the industry incorporate many different assembly materials into the assembly process, it is also critical to be able to describe the interactions between materials and process parameters, and the accurate characterisation and modelling is an important pre-requisite to achieving high yield and reliability. In terms of future work, the focus of EMERG's activity will continue to be on process modelling to develop the process knowledge required to support the "virtual" development of new and low cost electronic products.

Over the past fourteen years, Professor Ekere and the EMERG Group have been awarded 22 research grants and contracts worth over one and half million pounds by the Research Council and leading industrial organisations. He has published more than 120 research papers in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings. He has been invited to give more than 20 presentations on his research at international and national conferences and technical events. He has also organised or contributed to the organisation of eight national and/or international conferences. In recognition of the work of EMERG, Professor Ekere was awarded the Society of Manufacturing Engineering 2006 Total Excellence in Electronics Manufacturing Award.


Date: 28 March 2008 (Friday)
Time: 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Venue: Rm G6302, 6/F, Lift 7, Academic Bldg, City University of Hong Kong,
83 Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon,
Hong Kong.
Fee: Complimentary
Medium of Instruction: English

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