GaAs electronic devices are becoming increasingly used in the microelectronics industry especially in solid state microwave, ultra high speed digital processing and optoelectronic applications. However, in the manufacture of the GaAs devices, problems due to the inherent brittleness of the GaAs and batch to batch variability of the bond pad metallisation have commonly been experienced. This has resulted in some difficulties in wire bonding to GaAs devices with ultrasonic and thermocompression wire bonding techniques. This paper describes a programme undertaken to investigate Au wire bonding techniques to GaAs devices. Specifically, bonding trials have been performed on a range of GaAs substrates using pulse tip and continuously heated thermocompression bonding and ultrasonic bonding. The results of this work have shown that thermocompression and ultrasonic wire bonding techniques are cabable of producing acceptable bonds to GaAs devices, although some of the advantages and limitations of each technique have been demonstrated. Thermocompression bonding with a continuously heated capillary gave the most tolerant envelope of bonding conditions and highest bond strengths. Pulse tip thermocompression bonding gave a less tolerant envelope of acceptable bonding conditions, required a longer bonding time and the wire was weakened above the ball bond. Ultrasonic bonding did not require any substrate heating to give acceptable bonds. However, the choice of equipment can be critical if damage to the device is to be avoided.
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