By using fluorocarbon gases for aluminum (Al) pad open plasma etch, the pad inevitably has a thin surface remnant layer of Al-oxyfluoride (AlOF) by-product. This layer is chemically stable and does not directly cause issues in chip testing or wire bonding. This is true until open Al pads were exposed to a humid environment causing pad corrosion over time. The F-assisted corrosion created so-called black mushroom (BM) defects on the Al pads according to the defects appearance, resulting in the non-stick pads for wire bonding. Experimental tests were carried out to induce the Al pad corrosion via placing random fab-out wafers in a cassette pod hosting about 90% RH over a period up to a week. Optical imaging revealed BMs nucleated, primarily at Al grain boundaries. BMs were found all to be composed of O, F, and Al. In the cross section, BMs were shown to have separations of F-rich region next to Al and O-rich region towards the surface. In addition, BMs were composed of small crystallites and were porous. The former indicates an ionic bonding involving in O, F, and Al. The latter indicates the corrosion generated gaseous byproduct. A moisture (H2O) involved cyclic chemical reaction incorporating these analyses has been formulated. Factors to prevent BM formation were discussed.

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