Title:
Isolation Structure for Stacked Dies
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An isolation structure for stacked dies is provided. A through-silicon via is formed in a semiconductor substrate. A backside of the semiconductor substrate is thinned to expose the through-silicon via. An isolation film is formed over the backside of the semiconductor substrate and the exposed portion of the through-silicon via. The isolation film is thinned to re-expose the through-silicon via, and conductive elements are formed on the through-silicon via. The conductive element may be, for example, a solder ball or a conductive pad. The conductive pad may be formed by depositing a seed layer and an overlying mask layer. The conductive pad is formed on the exposed seed layer. Thereafter, the mask layer and the unused seed layer may be removed.



Inventors:
Chang, Hung-pin (Taipei, TW)
Hsu, Kuo-ching (Chung-Ho City, TW)
Chen, Chen-shien (Zhubei City, TW)
Chiou, Wen-chih (Miaoli, TW)
Yu, Chen-hua (Hsin-Chu, TW)
Application Number:
12/348622
Publication Date:
07/08/2010
Filing Date:
01/05/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
257/E23.011, 438/612, 438/613, 257/E21.46
International Classes:
H01L23/48; H01L21/34
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
JONES, ERIC W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SLATER & MATSIL, L.L.P. (17950 PRESTON ROAD, SUITE 1000, DALLAS, TX, 75252, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A semiconductor device comprising: a semiconductor substrate having a circuit side and a backside opposite the circuit side; through-silicon vias extending through the semiconductor substrate, each of the through-silicon vias having a protruding portion from the backside of the semiconductor substrate; an isolation film on the backside of the semiconductor substrate between adjacent ones of the through-silicon vias, the isolation film not extending beyond the top of the protruding portion of each of the through-silicon vias; and a conductive element on the protruding portion of each of the through-silicon vias.

2. The semiconductor device of claim 1, wherein the conductive element comprises a conducting seed layer on the protruding portion of each of the through-silicon vias and a conductive pad on the conducting seed layer.

3. The semiconductor device of claim 2, wherein the conducting seed layer extends over a portion of the isolation film.

4. The semiconductor device of claim 2, wherein the conductive pad comprises copper.

5. The semiconductor device of claim 1, wherein the isolation film extends along sidewalls of the protruding portion of each of the through-silicon vias.

6. The semiconductor device of claim 1, wherein the conductive element comprises a solder ball.

7. The semiconductor device of claim 1, further comprising conductive bumps on the circuit side of the semiconductor substrate.

8. A method of forming a semiconductor device, the method comprising: providing a semiconductor substrate having a through-silicon via extending from a circuit side partially through the semiconductor substrate; thinning a backside of the semiconductor substrate such that the through-silicon via protrudes from the backside of the semiconductor substrate; forming an isolation film over the backside of the semiconductor substrate and the through-silicon via; thinning the isolation film such that the through-silicon via is exposed; and forming a conductive element on the through-silicon via.

9. The method of claim 8, wherein the forming the conductive element comprises forming a solder ball on the through-silicon via.

10. The method of claim 8, wherein the forming the conductive element comprises: forming a seed layer over the through-silicon via; and forming a metal pad over the seed layer.

11. The method of claim 8, wherein a liner is interposed between the through-silicon via and the semiconductor substrate and further comprising removing the liner from over the through-silicon via.

12. The method of claim 11, wherein the removing the liner is performed after the forming the isolation film.

13. The method of claim 11, wherein the isolation film has a planar surface.

14. A method of forming a semiconductor device, the method comprising: providing a semiconductor substrate, the semiconductor substrate having a first side and a second side opposite the first side, the semiconductor substrate having a through-silicon via extending from the first side partially through the semiconductor substrate; exposing the through-silicon via such that at least a portion of the through-silicon via protrudes from the second side of the semiconductor substrate; forming a dielectric layer over the second side of the semiconductor substrate; forming a patterned mask over the dielectric layer, the dielectric layer over the through-silicon via being exposed; and removing the dielectric layer over the through-silicon via.

15. The method of claim 14, further comprising forming a conductive element over the through-silicon via.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein the conductive element comprises solder.

17. The method of claim 14, further comprising removing the patterned mask after the removing the dielectric layer.

18. The method of claim 14, wherein a liner is interposed between the through-silicon via and the semiconductor substrate.

19. The method of claim 18, further comprising removing the liner after the forming the patterned mask.

20. The method of claim 18, wherein the liner extends along sidewalls of the portion of the through-silicon via protruding from the second side of the substrate.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates generally to integrated circuits and, more particularly, to an isolation structure for stacked dies.

BACKGROUND

Since the invention of the integrated circuit, the semiconductor industry has experienced rapid growth due to continuous improvements in the integration density of various electronic components (e.g., transistors, diodes, resistors, capacitors, etc.). For the most part, this improvement in integration density has come from repeated reductions in minimum feature size, which allows more components to be integrated into a given area.

These integration improvements are essentially two-dimensional (2D) in nature, in that the volume occupied by the integrated components is essentially on the surface of the semiconductor wafer. Although dramatic improvement in lithography has resulted in considerable improvement in 2D integrated circuit (IC) formation, there are physical limits to the density that can be achieved in two dimensions. One of these limits is the minimum size needed to make these components. Also, when more devices are put into one chip, more complex designs are required.

In an attempt to further increase circuit density, three-dimensional (3D) ICs have been investigated. In a typical formation process of a 3D IC, two dies are bonded together and electrical connections are formed between each die and contact pads on a substrate. For example, one attempt involved bonding two dies on top of each other. The stacked dies were then bonded to a carrier substrate and wire bonds electrically coupled contact pads on each die to contact pads on the carrier substrate. This attempt, however, requires a carrier substrate larger than the dies for the wire bonding.

More recent attempts have focused on through-silicon vias (TSVs). Generally, a TSV is formed by etching a vertical via through a substrate and filling the via with a conductive material, such as copper. The backside of the substrate is thinned to expose the TSVs, and solder balls are placed directly on the TSVs to provide an electrical contact. Another die is placed on the solder balls, thereby forming a stacked die package.

The dielectric processes used on the circuit side of the substrate are not applicable to the backside due to the thinned substrate. As a result, the backside of the substrate is left unprotected when the solder balls are placed on the exposed TSVs, limiting the wetting surface for the solder ball without forming electrical shorts between the solder ball and the substrate. Furthermore, the structure limits the mechanical strength with the bonding surface and limits the I/O pin population.

Accordingly, there is a need for a better structure and method of bonding to TSV structures.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

These and other problems are generally reduced, solved or circumvented, and technical advantages are generally achieved, by embodiments of the present invention, which provides an isolation structure for stacked dies.

In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, a semiconductor device is provided. The semiconductor device has a semiconductor substrate with through-silicon vias extending through and a portion thereof protruding from the backside of the semiconductor substrate. An isolation film is formed on the backside of the semiconductor substrate between adjacent protruding portions of the through-silicon vias. The isolation film does not extend beyond the protruding portions of the through-silicon vias. Conductive elements, such as solder balls or metal pads, are formed over the exposed through-silicon vias.

In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, a method of forming a semiconductor device is provided. The method includes providing a semiconductor substrate having a through-silicon via extending from a circuit side partially through the semiconductor substrate. A backside of the semiconductor substrate is thinned such that the through-silicon via protrudes from the backside of the semiconductor substrate. An isolation film is formed over the backside of the semiconductor substrate and the through-silicon via, and then the isolation film is thinned such that the through-silicon via is exposed. A conductive element, such as a solder ball or a metal pad, is formed over the exposed through-silicon via.

In accordance with yet another embodiment of the present invention, another method of forming a semiconductor device is provided. The method includes providing a semiconductor substrate having a first side and a second side opposite the first side. The semiconductor substrate has a through-silicon via extending from a first side partially through the semiconductor substrate. The through-silicon via is exposed such that at least a portion of the through-silicon via protrudes from the second side of the semiconductor substrate, and a dielectric layer is formed over the second side of the semiconductor substrate. A patterned mask is formed over the dielectric layer such that the dielectric layer over the through-silicon via is exposed. The exposed portions of the dielectric layer are removed, thereby exposing the through-silicon via.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a more complete understanding of the present invention, and the advantages thereof, reference is now made to the following descriptions taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIGS. 1-5 illustrate intermediate stages in forming a semiconductor device that may be used in a stacked die configuration in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 6-11 illustrate intermediate stages in forming a semiconductor device that may be used in a stacked die configuration in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 12-16 illustrate intermediate stages in forming a semiconductor device that may be used in a stacked die configuration in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention; and

FIGS. 17-21 illustrate intermediate stages in forming a semiconductor device that may be used in a stacked die configuration in accordance with yet another embodiment of the present invention

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENTS

The making and using of the presently preferred embodiments are discussed in detail below. It should be appreciated, however, that the present invention provides many applicable inventive concepts that can be embodied in a wide variety of specific contexts. The specific embodiments discussed are merely illustrative of specific ways to make and use the invention, and do not limit the scope of the invention.

The intermediate stages of a method for forming a die having an isolation structure suitable for use in a three-dimensional integrated circuit or stacked die configuration are illustrated in FIGS. 1-5. Throughout the various views and illustrative embodiments of the present invention, like reference numbers are used to designate like elements.

Referring first to FIG. 1, a semiconductor substrate 110 having electrical circuitry 112 formed thereon is shown. The semiconductor substrate 110 may comprise, for example, bulk silicon, doped or undoped, or an active layer of a semiconductor-on-insulator (SOI) substrate. Generally, an SOI substrate comprises a layer of a semiconductor material, such as silicon, formed on an insulator layer. The insulator layer may be, for example, a buried oxide (BOX) layer or a silicon oxide layer. The insulator layer is provided on a substrate, typically a silicon or glass substrate. Other substrates, such as a multi-layered or gradient substrate may also be used.

The electrical circuitry 112 formed on the semiconductor substrate 110 may be any type of circuitry suitable for a particular application. In an embodiment, the circuitry includes electrical devices formed on the substrate with one or more dielectric layers overlying the electrical devices. Metal layers may be formed between dielectric layers to route electrical signals between the electrical devices. Electrical devices may also be formed in one or more dielectric layers.

For example, the electrical circuitry 112 may include various N-type metal-oxide semiconductor (NMOS) and/or P-type metal-oxide semiconductor (PMOS) devices, such as transistors, capacitors, resistors, diodes, photo-diodes, fuses, and the like, interconnected to perform one or more functions. The functions may include memory structures, processing structures, sensors, amplifiers, power distribution, input/output circuitry, or the like. One of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the above examples are provided for illustrative purposes only to further explain applications of the present invention and are not meant to limit the present invention in any manner. Other circuitry may be used as appropriate for a given application.

Also shown in FIG. 1 are an etch stop layer 114 and an inter-layer dielectric (ILD) layer 116. The etch stop layer 114 is preferably formed of a dielectric material having a different etch selectivity from adjacent layers, e.g., the underlying semiconductor substrate 110 and the overlying ILD layer 116. In an embodiment, the etch stop layer 114 may be formed of SiN, SiCN, SiCO, CN, combinations thereof, or the like deposited by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) or plasma-enhanced CVD (PECVD) techniques.

The ILD layer 116 may be formed, for example, of a low-K dielectric material, such as silicon oxide, phosphosilicate glass (PSG), borophosphosilicate glass (BPSG), fluorinated silicate glass (FSG), SiOxCy, Spin-On-Glass, Spin-On-Polymers, silicon carbon material, compounds thereof, composites thereof, combinations thereof or the like, by any suitable method known in the art, such as spinning, CVD, and PECVD. It should also be noted that the etch stop layer 114 and the ILD layer 116 may each comprise a plurality of dielectric layers, with or without an etch stop layer formed between adjacent dielectric layers.

Contacts 118 are formed through the ILD layer 116 to provide an electrical contact to the electrical circuitry 112. The contacts 118 may be formed, for example, by using photolithography techniques to deposit and pattern a photoresist material on the ILD layer 116 to expose portions of the ILD layer 116 that are to become the contacts 118. An etch process, such as an anisotropic dry etch process, may be used to create openings in the ILD layer 116. The openings are, preferably, lined with a diffusion barrier layer and/or an adhesion layer (not shown), and filled with a conductive material. Preferably, the diffusion barrier layer comprises one or more layers of TaN, Ta, TiN, Ti, CoW, or the like, and the conductive material comprises copper, tungsten, aluminum, silver, and combinations thereof, or the like, thereby forming the contacts 118 as illustrated in FIG. 1.

One or more inter-metal dielectric (IMD) layers 120 and the associated metallization layers (not shown) are formed over the ILD layer 116. Generally, the one or more IMD layers 120 and the associated metallization layers are used to interconnect the electrical circuitry to each other and to provide an external electrical connection. The IMD layers 120 are preferably formed of a low-K dielectric material, such as fluorosilicate glass (FSG) formed by PECVD techniques or high-density plasma chemical vapor deposition (HDPCVD) or the like, and may include intermediate etch stop layers, similar to etch stop layer 114. Top metal contacts 122 are provided in the uppermost IMD layer to provide external electrical connections.

Also shown in FIG. 1 are through-silicon vias 124. The through-silicon vias 124 may be formed by any appropriate method. For example, openings may be formed extending into the substrate 110 prior to forming the ILD layer 116 by, for example, one or more etching processes, milling, laser techniques, or the like. The openings are preferably lined with a liner, such as liner 126, that acts as an isolation layer, and filled with a conductive material 124. Preferably, the liner 126 comprises one or more layers of SiN, an oxide, a polymer, or the like, and the conductive material comprises copper, tungsten, aluminum, silver, and combinations thereof, or the like, thereby forming the through-silicon vias 124. Other materials, including conductive diffusion barrier layers, such as TaN, Ta, TiN, Ti, CoW, or the like, may also be used.

It should be noted that the through-silicon vias 124 are illustrated as extending in the substrate 110 from a top surface of the substrate 110 for illustrative purposes only and that other arrangements may be utilized. For example, in another embodiment the through-silicon vias 124 may extend from a top surface of the ILD layer 116 or one of the IMD layers 120. For example, in an embodiment, the through-silicon vias 124 are formed by creating openings extending into the substrate 110 after forming the contacts 118 by, for example, one or more etching process, milling, laser techniques, or the like. The openings are also preferably lined with a liner, such as liner 126, that acts as an isolation layer, and filled with a conductive material as discussed above.

Conductive bumps 128, such as metal bumps formed of Cu, W, CuSn, AuSn, InAu, PbSn, or the like, are formed on the top metal contacts 122, and a carrier substrate 130 is attached to a top surface of the IMD layers 120 using an adhesive 132. Generally, the carrier substrate 130 provides temporary mechanical and structural support during subsequent processing steps. In this manner, damage to the semiconductor substrate 110 is reduced or prevented.

The carrier substrate 130 may comprise, for example, glass, silicon oxide, aluminum oxide, and the like. In an embodiment, an adhesive 132 used to adhere the carrier substrate 130 to a top surface of the IMD 120 (or a passivation layer). The adhesive 132 may be any suitable adhesive, such as an ultraviolet (UV) glue, which loses its adhesive property when exposed to UV lights. The preferred thickness of the carrier substrate 130 is preferably in the range of a few mils to tens of mils.

FIG. 2 illustrates a thinning process performed on a backside of the substrate 110 to expose the through-silicon vias 124/liners 126 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The thinning process may be performed using a mechanical grinding process, a chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) process, an etching process, and/or a combination thereof. For example, initially a planarizing process, such as grinding or a CMP, may be performed to initially expose the through-silicon vias 124. Thereafter, a wet or dry etching process having a high etch-rate selectivity between the material of the liners 126 and the material of the substrate 110 may be performed to recess the semiconductor substrate 110, thereby leaving the through-silicon vias 124 and the liners 126 protruding from the underside of the semiconductor substrate 110 as illustrated in FIG. 2. In an embodiment in which the through-silicon vias 124 are formed of copper and the liners 126 are formed of an oxide, the semiconductor substrate 110 may be recessed by, for example, performing a dry etch process using HBr/O2, HBr/Cl2/O2, SF6/CL2, SF6 plasma, or the like. Preferably, the through-silicon vias 124 and the liners 126 are exposed in the range of about sub-μm to about few μms

FIG. 3 illustrates an isolation film 310 formed over the backside of the substrate 110 (or a native oxide that may be formed on the surface of the substrate 110) in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In a preferred embodiment, the isolation film 310 is a dielectric material, such as SiN, an oxide, SiC, SiON, a polymer, or the like, and may be formed by, for example, spin-coating, printing, a CVD process, or the like. Preferably, the isolation film 310 is formed using a low-temperature process, e.g., using temperatures less than 250° C. by a PECVD process, preventing the bonding adhesive from degrading to ensure the mechanical strength throughout the integration process. The isolation film 310 is preferably formed having a thickness sufficient to cover the exposed through-silicon vias 124.

Depending on the process utilized to form the isolation film 310, it may be desirable to perform a planarization process. In particular, some methods of deposition, such as spin-coating, create a planar surface, but other methods, such as a CVD process, form a conformal layer and as a result, it may be desirable to perform a planarization process, such as a grinding or CMP process, to create a planar surface as illustrated in FIG. 3.

FIG. 4 illustrates a second exposure of the through-silicon vias 124 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The thinning process may be performed using a mechanical grinding process, a CMP process, an etching process, and/or a combination thereof. For example, initially a planarizing process, such as grinding or a CMP, may be performed to initially expose the through-silicon vias 124. Thereafter, a wet or dry etching process having a high etch-rate selectivity between the material of the through-silicon vias 124 and the liners 126 and the material of the isolation film 310 may be performed to recess the isolation film 310, thereby leaving the through-silicon vias 124 protruding from the underside of the isolation film 310 as illustrated in FIG. 4. In an embodiment in which the through-silicon vias 124 are formed of copper, the isolation film 310 may be recessed by performing a wet etch using hydrofluoric acid or a dry etching process. Other processes and materials may be used. Preferably, the through-silicon vias 124 are exposed in the range of about sub-μm to about a few μms.

FIG. 4 also illustrates removing the liners 126 from the exposed portions of the through-silicon vias 124 along with the recess step of the isolation film 310.

As illustrated in FIG. 5, connection elements 510 are formed on the exposed through-silicon vias 124 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The connection elements 510 may be any suitable conductive material, such as Cu, Ni, Sn, Au, Ag, or the like, and may be formed by any suitable method, including evaporation, electroplating, printing, jetting, stud bumping, direct placement, or the like.

Thereafter, other back-end-of-line (BEOL) processing techniques suitable for the particular application may be performed. For example, the carrier substrate 130 may be removed, an encapsulant may be formed, a singulation process may be performed to singulate individual dies, wafer-level or die-level stacking, and the like, may be performed. It should be noted, however, that embodiments of the present invention may be used in many different situations. For example, embodiments of the present invention may be used in a die-to-die bonding configuration, a die-to-wafer bonding configuration, or a wafer-to-wafer bonding configuration.

FIGS. 6-11 illustrate another method of forming an isolation structure on a die suitable for a stacked die configuration in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The method illustrated in FIGS. 6-11 assumes a starting configuration such as that illustrated in FIG. 2 discussed above, wherein like reference numerals refer to like elements

FIG. 6 illustrates an isolation film 610 formed over the backside of the substrate 110 (or a native oxide that may be formed on the surface of the substrate 110) in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In a preferred embodiment, the isolation film 610 is a conformal layer of a dielectric material, such as SiN, an oxide, SiC, SiON, a polymer, or the like, and may be formed by, for example, a CVD process, a PECVD process, or the like. Preferably, the isolation film 610 is formed using a low-temperature process, e.g., using temperatures less than 250° C. with a PECVD process, preventing the bonding adhesive from degrading to ensure the mechanical strength throughout the integration process. The isolation film 610 is preferably formed having a thickness of several kÅ. It should be noted, however, that the thickness of the isolation film 610 is less than the amount by which the through-silicon vias 124 protrude from the substrate 110.

FIG. 7 illustrates a mask layer 710 formed over the isolation film 610, and FIG. 8 illustrates an etch-back process to expose the isolation film 610 over the through-silicon vias 124 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In an embodiment, the mask layer 710 comprises a photoresist material, although other materials having a high-etch selectivity with the underlying isolation film 610 and the liner 126 may be used. The etch-back process may be performed by, for example, dry etching process.

Thereafter, as illustrated in FIG. 9, the liner 126 and the isolation film 610 positioned on the through-silicon vias 124 are removed, thereby exposing the through-silicon vias 124. A wet or dry etching process having a high etch-rate selectivity between the material of the mask layer 710 and the material of the through-silicon vias 124, the liners 126, and the isolation film 610 may be performed to remove a portion of the isolation film 610 and the liners 126, thereby exposing the through-silicon vias 124 as illustrated in FIG. 9. In an embodiment in which the through-silicon vias 124 are formed of copper, exposing the through-silicon vias 124 may be performed by, for example, a wet etch using hydrofluoric acid or a dry etch process. Other processes and materials may be used.

FIG. 10 illustrates the removal of the mask layer 710 (see FIG. 7) in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In an embodiment in which the patterned mask 710 is a photoresist mask, a plasma ashing or a wet strip process may be used to remove the patterned mask 710. One preferred plasma ashing process uses an O2 flow rate of about 1000 sccm to about 2000 sccm at a pressure of about 300 mTorr to about 600 mTorr and at power of about 500 Watts to about 2000 Watts and at a temperature of about 80° C. to about 200° C., for example. Optionally, the plasma ashing process may be followed by a wet dip in a solvent chemical to clean the wafer and remove any remaining photoresist material.

As illustrated in FIG. 11, connection elements 1110 are formed on the exposed through-silicon vias 124 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The connection elements 1110 may be any suitable conductive material, such as Cu, Ni, Sn, Au, Ag, or the like, and may be formed by any suitable method, including evaporation, electroplating, printing, jetting, stud bumping, direct placement, or the like.

Thereafter, other back-end-of-line (BEOL) processing techniques suitable for the particular application may be performed. For example, the carrier substrate 130 may be removed, an encapsulant may be formed, a singulation process may be performed to singulate individual dies, wafer-level or die-level stacking, and the like, may be performed. It should be noted, however, that embodiments of the present invention may be used in many different situations. For example, embodiments of the present invention may be used in a die-to-die bonding configuration, a die-to-wafer bonding configuration, or a wafer-to-wafer bonding configuration.

FIGS. 12-16 illustrate another method of forming an isolation structure on a die suitable for a stacked die configuration in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention. The method illustrated in FIGS. 12-16 assumes a starting configuration such as that illustrated in FIG. 4 discussed above, wherein like reference numerals refer to like elements.

Referring now to FIG. 12, a conformal seed layer 1210 is deposited over the surface of the isolation film 310 and the exposed portions of the through-silicon vias 124. The seed layer 1210 is a thin layer of a conductive material that aids in the formation of a thicker layer during subsequent processing steps. In an embodiment, the seed layer 1210 may be formed by depositing a thin conductive layer, such as a thin layer of Cu, Ti, Ta, TiN, TaN, or the like, using CVD or PVD techniques. For example, a layer of Ti is deposited by PVD process to form a barrier film and a layer of Cu is deposited by PVD process to form a seed layer.

FIG. 13 illustrates a patterned mask 1310 formed over the seed layer 1210 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The patterned mask 1310 preferably comprises a pattern photoresist, hard mask, or the like. In a preferred embodiment, a photoresist material is deposited and patterned to form openings 1312 over the through-silicon vias 124.

Thereafter, conductive pads 1410 are formed in the openings 1312 as illustrated in FIG. 14. The conductive pads 1410 may be formed, for example, by electroplating, electroless plating, or the like. In an embodiment, an electroplating process is used wherein the wafer is submerged or immersed in the electroplating solution. The wafer surface is electrically connected to the negative side of an external DC power supply such that the wafer functions as the cathode in the electroplating process. A solid conductive anode, such as a copper anode, is also immersed in the solution and is attached to the positive side of the power supply. The atoms from the anode are dissolved into the solution, from which the cathode, e.g., the wafer, acquires, thereby plating the exposed conductive areas of the wafer, e.g., the openings 1410.

FIG. 15 illustrates the removal of the patterned mask 1310 (see FIG. 13) in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In an embodiment in which the patterned mask 1310 is a photoresist mask, a plasma ashing or a wet strip process may be used to remove the patterned mask 1310 as discussed above.

FIG. 16 illustrates removal of the exposed seed layer 1210. The seed layer 1210 may be removed by, for example, a wet etching process.

Thereafter, other BEOL processing techniques suitable for the particular application may be performed. For example, the carrier substrate 130 may be removed, an encapsulant may be formed, a singulation process may be performed to singulate individual dies, wafer-level or die-level stacking, and the like, may be performed. It should be noted, however, that embodiments of the present invention may be used in many different situations. For example, embodiments of the present invention may be used in a die-to-die bonding configuration, a die-to-wafer bonding configuration, or a wafer-to-wafer bonding configuration.

FIGS. 17-21 illustrate another method of forming an isolation structure on a die suitable for a stacked die configuration in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention. The method illustrated in FIGS. 17-21 assumes a starting configuration such as that illustrated in FIG. 10 discussed above, wherein like reference numerals refer to like elements.

Referring first to FIG. 17, a conformal seed layer 1710 is deposited over the surface of the isolation film 610 and the exposed portions of the through-silicon vias 124. The seed layer 1710 is a thin layer of a conductive material that aids in the formation of a thicker layer during subsequent processing steps and may include a barrier film. The seed layer 1710 may be formed using similar materials and similar processes as the seed layer 1210 discussed above with reference to FIG. 12.

FIG. 18 illustrates a patterned mask 1810 formed over the seed layer 1710 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The patterned mask 1810 preferably comprises a pattern photoresist, hard mask, or the like. In a preferred embodiment, a photoresist material is deposited and patterned to form openings 1812 over the through-silicon vias 124.

Thereafter, conductive pads 1910 are formed in the openings 1812 as illustrated in FIG. 19. The conductive pads 1910 may be formed, for example, by electroplating, electroless plating, or the like as discussed above with reference to conductive pads 1410 (see FIG. 14).

FIG. 20 illustrates the removal of the patterned mask 1810 (see FIG. 18) in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In an embodiment in which the patterned mask 1810 is a photoresist mask, a plasma ashing or a wet strip process may be used to remove the patterned mask 1810. Optionally, the plasma ashing process may be followed by a wet dip in a solvent chemical to clean the wafer and remove remaining photoresist material.

FIG. 21 illustrates removal of the exposed seed layer 1710. The seed layer 1710 may be removed by, for example, a wet etching process.

Thereafter, other BEOL processing techniques suitable for the particular application may be performed. For example, the carrier substrate 130 may be removed, an encapsulant may be formed, a singulation process may be performed to singulate individual dies, wafer-level or die-level stacking, and the like, may be performed. It should be noted, however, that embodiments of the present invention may be used in many different situations. For example, embodiments of the present invention may be used in a die-to-die bonding configuration, a die-to-wafer bonding configuration, or a wafer-to-wafer bonding configuration

It should be appreciated that embodiments of the present invention discussed above provide an isolation structure around the exposed through-silicon vias, thereby providing a larger wetting surface for forming the solder balls with reduced or no concern for shorting the solder ball to the substrate. As a result, the density of the solder balls may be increased. Furthermore, the addition of the isolation film increases the mechanical strength of the bonding interface.

Although the present invention and its advantages have been described in detail, it should be understood that various changes, substitutions and alterations can be made herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims. Moreover, the scope of the present application is not intended to be limited to the particular embodiments of the process, machine, manufacture, and composition of matter, means, methods and steps described in the specification. As one of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate from the disclosure of the present invention, processes, machines, manufacture, compositions of matter, means, methods, or steps, presently existing or later to be developed, that perform substantially the same function or achieve substantially the same result as the corresponding embodiments described herein may be utilized according to the present invention. Accordingly, the appended claims are intended to include within their scope such processes, machines, manufacture, compositions of matter, means, methods, or steps.