GHz scanning acoustic microscopy (GHz-SAM) was successfully applied for non-destructive evaluation of the integrity of back end of line (BEOL) stacks located underneath wire-bond pads. The current study investigated two sample types of different IC processes. Realistic bonding defects were artificially induced into samples and the sensitivity of the acoustic GHz-microscope towards defects in BEOL systems was studied. Due to the low penetration depth in the acoustic GHz regime, a specific sample preparation was conducted in order to provide access to the region of interest. However, the preparation stopped several microns above the interfaces of interest, thus avoiding preparation artifacts in the critical region. Cratering related cracks in the bond pads have been imaged clearly by GHz-SAM. The morphology of the visualized defects corresponded well with the results obtained by a chemical cratering test. Moreover, delamination defects at the interface between ball and pad metallization were detected and successfully identified. The current paper demonstrates non-destructive inspection for bond-pad cratering and ball-bond delamination using highly focused acoustic waves in the GHz-band and thus illustrates the analysis of micron-sized defects in BEOL layer structures that are related to wire bonding or test needle imprints.

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