Fan Out - Panel Level Packaging (FO-PLP) has redistribution layers (RDLs) which connect IC to a substrate. And each layer in the RDLs is connected through copper micro-vias. Viarelated defects including via separation are very critical because they can escape from electrical test and be found in the field. So many cleaning methods have been developed to keep the target pad surface free of oxides or organic contamination before forming vias. In this paper, we present a via separation case caused by alkaline cleaning introduced before seed metal deposition for electroplating of copper. We investigated the cause by analyzing the microstructure and chemical composition using a focused ion beam (FIB) and a transmission electron microscope (TEM) equipped with an energy dispersive spectrometer (EDS). Via separation, interestingly occurred at the interface between the seed Ti and the seed Cu not the interface between the seed Ti and the target pad..Cu surface which is known to be weak. We suggest a mechanism that structural imperfections at the outer rim of via bottom and galvanic couple of titanium and copper are involved in the separation of vias. Since two dissimilar metals of Ti and Cu are in direct contact, galvanic corrosion can occur in the presence of alkaline solution and discontinuities in the seed Ti layer. We found that galvanic corrosion in the studied system can be further complicated by the existence of copper oxide and titanium oxide as well as Cu and Ti.

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