Nextreme Announces Breakthrough In Semiconductor Process Technology

October 15, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

Nextreme announced that it has integrated cooling and power generation into the widely accepted copper pillar bumping process used in high-volume electronic packaging. This "flip chip" process technology is said to address two of the most serious issues in electronics today – thermal and power management constraints. Nextreme’s approach is said to use proven, fully scalable technology to deliver new, enabling functionality in flip chip applications.

Up until now, copper pillar bumps have been used for the electrical and mechanical connection between the electronic device – such as a microprocessor chip – and the outside world. Nextreme’s innovation creates a thermally active copper pillar bump, adding two fundamentally new functionalities that have not otherwise been implemented in existing electronic packaging. When electrical current is passed through Nextreme’s thermal bump, one side cools rapidly relative to the other. Alternatively, when heat passes through the thermal bump, the bump actually generates power.

Nextreme added this functionality by incorporating a thin film of proprietary nano-material into a proven and widely available manufacturing technique called solder bumping. Most recently Nextreme demonstrated its innovation in a copper pillar bump – a high-volume manufacturing approach used by Intel, Amkor and others to connect microprocessors and other advanced electronics devices to various surfaces using a process referred to as "flip chip" packaging.

Nextreme is implementing the technology in conventional approaches for existing customers for thermal management in lasers and sensors, to cool high temperature electronics and to trickle charge miniature batteries. In the future, customers will be able to use standard electronic design tools to integrate Nextreme’s thermal bump using the integrated circuit design process. In this way, customers will be able to place cooling or energy harvesting functionality exactly where it is needed on the electronic chip. This will be done in the same manner that capacitors, resistors, transistors and electrical interconnects are designed into electronics today. Once designed in, the thermal bump will be implemented as part of the standard flip chip solder bumping process – a seamless part of the overall manufacturing sequence. The company claims that this represents a true paradigm shift in thermal and power management for the entire electronics industry.

Potential flip chip applications for Nextreme’s thermal bump include microprocessors, display drivers, chip sets, RF devices, medical devices, watches, smartcards and analog/mixed signal devices.