I recently had the opportunity to visit Mercury Systems’ Advanced Microelectronics Center (AMC) in Hudson, N.H. The company moved into this 72,000-sq.-ft. design and manufacturing facility back in 2014, so it was nice to finally go there in person. Both this facility and a smaller one in West Caldwell, N.J. serve as the company’s AMCs.
The facility in Hudson contains a 12,000-sq.-ft. clean room. During our visit, Kevin Beals, the company’s VP of RF/microwave solutions, was kind enough to take us on a tour of the facility. This experience allowed us to have a first-hand look at how the company operates.
As most know, Mercury Systems builds microwave multichip modules (MCMs). An MCM can be rather complex, meaning one may contain a large number of monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs). During our tour, Kevin walked us through the entire process of building and then testing an MCM.
The clean room has areas for both manufacturing and testing. Anyone who is familiar with a microwave MCM knows that building a complete module involves laminate attachment, die bonding MMIC devices, and installing wire bonds to enable electrical interconnectivity. One module may contain numerous MMICs with hundreds of wire bonds. Of course, wire bonding also requires bond pull testing, which the company employs.
In terms of equipment, Mercury Systems utilizes a variety of die-bonding and wire-bonding machines. One recent addition to the company is Palomar Technologies’ 8000 wire bonder, which is a fully automatic, thermosonic, high-speed wire bonder. The company also takes advantage of Palomar’s 3800 die bonder, which can both dispense epoxy and attach die components.
I can say from personal experience that tuning an MCM is not always easy. Technicians have to use a microscope to examine complex modules that contain many components and wire bonds. They must then perform fine-tuning wherever it is necessary to optimize performance.
Because the company builds multi-function modules that can have multiple inputs and outputs, testing one can be very intensive. The company utilizes automated test stations so that final testing can be completed in the shortest time possible. In fact, the company employs staff solely dedicated to developing automated test software.