Chemical and Mechanical Adhesion Mechanisms of Sputter-Deposited Metal on Epoxy Dielectric for High Density Interconnect Printed Circuit Boards

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Wong, C. P.
Martin, Lara J.
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Strong chemical reactions between metal and polymer substrates significantly enhance adhesion of the metal to the polymer. This study investigated the adhesion of three types of thin film metals, including Cu, NiCr, and Cr, to a fully epoxy-based polymer. Before depositing these thin film metals, the epoxy surface was treated with either an Ar or O [subscript 2] plasma etch. It was found that NiCr and Cr produced higher peel strengths than Cu, but NiCr and Cr did not produce different peel strengths than each other. It was also found that O[subscript 2 ] plasma etch produced significantly higher peel strengths than Ar plasma etch for Cu and Cr, but not for NiCr. An XPS (X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy) study was performed to investigate the reactivities and possible chemical adhesion mechanisms of the metal thin films with the epoxy. It was determined that Cr reacted more strongly than Ni in forming metal oxide at the metal-epoxy interface. Cu was not seen to react strongly in forming oxide with the epoxy. Thermodynamic information supported the relative amounts of oxides found by XPS. Thermodynamic information also suggested that O [subscript 2] plasma etch did not produce significantly higher adhesion than Ar plasma etch on the NiCr samples due to the large Ni component of the NiCr thin film. An AFM (atomic force microscopy) study was performed to investigate possible mechanical adhesion mechanisms. Implications of the AFM results were that the main adhesion mechanism for all samples was chemical and that the Cu oxide that was available on the Cu samples was beyond the detection limits of the XPS equipment.
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