What You Need To Know About Bonding Wire

Underneath the surface of countless electronic devices, ranging from cardiac monitors in major hospitals to communications and defense satellites orbiting high above the earth, numerous circuits, chips, diodes and other components operate at a furious pace. They must function without incident to ensure high effectiveness in both routine and mission-critical situations. Wire bonds serve as the connective tissue between all of these parts, maintained by hermetic seals, connectors, bulkheads, solder preforms, feedthroughs and other conduits.

When wire bonds must connect two chips, or a chip and a substrate, bonding wire forged with reliably strong metals fills such roles. AMETEK ECP, via our Coining metallurgy division, produces this wire according to industry-leading standards and with the advantage of more than 50 years' experience in the field of electronic component manufacturing. For the benefit of those who know they need bonding wire but aren't sure which type to choose, or find themselves otherwise unfamiliar with its key attributes, today's blog post explores the characteristics and applications of all wire types in our product catalog.

The gold standard

One could go on quite a while listing gold's many pluses. For our purposes, we'll stick to its bonding benefits. Gold bonding wire manufactured by Coining for AMETEK ECP boasts 99.99 percent purity, with vestigial traces of beryllium, copper, silver, etc. under 50 parts per million. The importance of purity lies in gold's ability to bond to different substrates, including gold, aluminum and silver.  It’s high melting point (1,063 degrees Celsius), makes it ideal for maintaining bonds in settings with high temperatures or humidity, for example automotive engine applications Gold bonding wire's favorable electrical also help ensure its favorable performance even under considerable pressure.

Beyond those benefits, the primary positive of gold bonding wire is its utility in extremely delicate microelectronic applications. Some of these include bonding substrates to chips that have high pin counts, ultrasonic or thermosonic bonding, and high-frequency RF and microwave signals.

Versatility with aluminum and copper wire

Cost restrictions often preclude the use of gold in many applications.  The electronics industry has developed an alternative to meet these restrictions. For such situations, aluminum bonding wire and ribbon might be just the ticket - a way to ensure proper bonding without breaking the bank.

Pure aluminum, as well as various aluminum-based alloys, is very cost competitive to produce. But its affordability shouldn't prompt one to take it for granted, as it's also useful for the maintenance of bonds in a wide variety of situations, ranging from microwave-emitting devices to ultrasonic functions and nearly all microelectronics. This fact accounts for its frequent usage by many electronic manufacturers as much, if not more so, than its low price.

High-performance copper bonding wire, meanwhile, will be a major boon to those in need of semiconductor bonds, and it should function as effectively as gold due to the elements' many essential similarities. The only potential stumbling point with copper wire is its longevity, because of the metal's high susceptibility to oxidization. AMETEK ECP and Coining include sturdy packaging with the wire to mitigate this and increase its shelf life as must as possible, but it merits mention in the interest of offering transparency for our customers.

gold bonding wire

Wire for soldering needs

This is in no small part due to the high levels of lead used for the material. As one of the most common bonding methods, the wire and preforms used in soldering require a high melting point, resistance to thermal fatigue and broad compatibility with the wide variety of different metals encountered in the broad spectrum of electronic processes. The 85 percent aluminum-based alloy so often used for this purpose meets all of that criteria, and it facilitates quick production.

That said, lead-majority materials aren't appropriate for all industries, especially in contexts where their exposure to children creates a toxicity hazard. AMETEK ECP and Coining offer numerous lead-free alloy options for manufacturing all soldering materials, including wire. In-house metallurgists will also consult with customers desiring unique material blends for their alloy orders, in keeping with AMETEK's dedication to the customers who have helped fuel more than a half-century of industry success.

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