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Palomar Technologies Introduces First Fully Automated Photonics Component Assembly Line; Joins with Alliance Companies Axsys Technologies, Creative Automation, ILX Lightwave.

Business Editors

VISTA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 19, 2002

Palomar Technologies, the leading manufacturer of automated high-precision assembly systems for broadband communications, introduces the first complete, fully automated photonics component assembly line.

Palomar combines its laser diode attach automated component assembly and wire bonding capabilities with the photonic dispensing, optical fiber alignment and attach, and test and measurement capabilities of its alliance companies Creative Automation, Axsys Technologies, and ILX Lightwave, to fully automate the manufacture of any type of photonic component or package. A completely automated solution will provide high quality, increased accuracy, reliability and yield, markedly increased throughput, improved efficiencies, and lower cost.

The Palomar Line consists of magazine loaders, an automated in-line adhesive dispenser, a laser diode component attach assembly cell, a wire bonder and conveyors. Because it is modular, it is flexible enough to accommodate any volume and type of component assembly operation. Design, process, and applications engineering, service, support, and financing are all available through Palomar Technologies.

Magazine loaders are stacked with empty butterfly packages. The packages move to a Creative Automation Champion 8300 Digital Dispensing In-Line system that can dispense 6 mil dots of conductive silver epoxy. The epoxy holds the components in place to keep them from moving during assembly. Creative Automation's True Volume(TM) Digital Dispensing System and SNaP(TM) (Servo NanoPump) technology are key enablers for precision fluid dispensing applications. The dispenser has a large 18 in. x 20 in. (457mm x 508mm) work area and can dispense up to 45,000 dots per hour.

From the dispenser, the parts move by conveyor to Palomar's Laser Diode Attach (LDA) automated component assembly cell. The LDA provides component attachment with placement accuracy of 5 microns at 3 sigma. A patented eutectic hot bar process controls the heat and parameters of the eutectic die attach process from ramp up, dwell, through cool down. The programmable, closed-loop system gives tightly coupled control and repeatability of critical eutectic reflow processes and a void-free eutectic solder interface that provides the high integrity thermal and electrical connection needed to generate reliable, long-term transmission of laser light.

The LDA has a modular edge belt conveyor to move the packages through the LDA's assembly operating stations. Because it is modular, the middle module can be interchanged with other modules, depending on the operation required. For example, it can be replaced for either cold or hot vacuum tooling or for the Palomar award-winning HotRail(TM) RF (radio frequency) system that has a hitch rail indexing mechanism for assembling microwave and RF parts.

A compound semiconductor is attached onto a substrate and then attached inside the optoelectronic package. The assembly cell positions the substrate, carrier, or sub-mount in the pulse heat unit, accurately places a eutectic preform, heat spreader/spacer, a second preform, places the laser diode, and pulse heats the subassembly. This sub-mount is then placed onto a thermal electric cooler in the "butterfly" or transistor outline optoelectronic package that is used in transmitters, receivers, transceivers and amplifiers.

The assembled package leaves the LDA and moves to a Palomar CBT (Continuous Bonding Technology) 6000 wire bonder where the parts are wire bonded, establishing the first level interconnect to the package. The CBT 6000's large work area of 6 in. x 12 in. (152mm x 304mm) features dual-stage part feeding. Components are bonded in one stage while parts are being indexed into the other, providing uninterrupted bonding. Following wire bonding, the components may be tested at the Chip on Carrier (CoC) level and then offloaded by a magazine unloader.

Setting the stage for full process integration, Palomar has allied with ILX Lightwave for its Laser Diode Test capabilities, and Axsys Technologies for its expertise in active fiber alignment and attachment. ILX Lightwave's test equipment, such as the LPA 9082 laser diode parameter analyzer displayed alongside the Palomar line, performs a LIV (light intensity voltage) test and provides data for yield management. This test shows the characterization of the circuit to verify whether the laser will work. This new ability to integrate ILX test equipment with Palomar's assembly equipment will be a key step in photonics yield management. Both companies are recognized as leaders in their respective fields -- Laser Test and Laser Assembly.

Also adjacent to the Palomar Assembly Line is the Axsys Technologies active fiber alignment system. Axsys' FAST6 alignment engine is a 6-axis nano-positioning stage, coupled with a range of process specific alignment algorithms. The Axsys FAST30 laser diode attach system aligns, attaches and tests the optical elements of the active diode device.

"Palomar Technologies is the only company offering custom integration of multiple machines and processes into a complete assembly line, delivering a simpler, more powerful solution that is easier to install and maintain and that more specifically meets a company's needs," stated Palomar Vice President of Marketing Bruce Hueners. "For our customers, this means higher yields, greater productivity, less downtime, and faster time to market."

"As an automated systems provider, Palomar is singularly and uniquely focused on providing complete automated solutions to broadband component manufacturers," explained Palomar Technologies President Kevin Conlon. "Building on its background in the automation of complex hybrid microcircuits and multi-chip modules, Palomar was the first company to apply its core competencies to bring an automated systems approach to photonics package assembly. Establishing alliances with proven companies in the photonics industry such as Axsys Technologies, Creative Automation, and ILX Lightwave, makes Palomar's total automated solutions commitment to our customers a reality."

About Palomar Technologies

Palomar Technologies provides complete process and equipment solutions for precision automated assembly of optical, RF and microelectronic packages in the photonic, wireless, microwave, automotive, aerospace, and medical industries. Palomar Technologies won the 2001 Advanced Packaging Award, Fiberoptic Product News 2001 Technology Award, and the Microwaves & RF Top Products of 2001 award for its innovative products and technology. Visit our Web site at www.palomartechnologies.com or contact us at 760/931-3600. Palomar Technologies, "Enabling Lightwave Connectivity."
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Date:Mar 19, 2002
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