Journal of Adhesion Science and Technology

A Surface Acoustic Wave Sensor Study of Polyimide Thin Film Surface Treatments — Effect on Water Uptake

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The effects of surface treatments on the water uptake in thin (1 μm) polyimide (PI) films were studied using a surface acoustic wave (SAW) sensor, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), external reflectance infrared (ERIR) spectroscopy, and contact angle measurements. Surface modification of PI films can affect film properties such as water uptake and adhesion. These properties, in turn, affect the performance and reliability of the devices in which these films are used. The ability to nondestructively study the results of various surface modification techniques in situ, prior to deposition of a metal layer for example, would be of particular benefit in the fabrication process. The results of this work indicate that the SAW sensor can measure extremely small amounts (< 0.003 μg) of water uptake in thin (1.2 μm) PI films. Also, that the water uptake of PI films, as measured by the SAW sensor, is particularly sensitive to sputter cleaning, sputtering/KOH, and Teflon AF surface treatment. The SAW, XPS, ERIR, and contact angle studies of the Teflon AF treated PI indicate that the concentration of Teflon AF is very high in the surface region of the PI and decreases into the bulk of the film. This work suggests utility of the SAW sensor as a nondestructive and in situ method for monitoring the surface properties of thin polymers in process control applications. © 1994, VSP. All rights reserved.