Self-Assembly of Microscale Parts Using Integrated Micromagnets

Technology #11940

Invention

The University of Florida is seeking companies interested in commercializing a novel approach for magnetic self-assembly of microscale parts that integrates the magnets into the micro parts themselves. Over the past few decades, advances in the field of electronics and photonic devices for wireless communication and computing have become more complex as they become more highly integrated. This trend for smaller, more compact and more integrated devices has challenged current assembly processes that rely heavily on human and robotic manipulation. These existing assembly approaches are limited in cost, speed, and throughput for high volume production. Moreover, as part sizes continue to decrease, conventional manipulators are incapable of the necessary precision required by microscale and nanoscale technologies. In order to obtain precise assembly with high throughput required for highly integrated technologies, our researchers have developed a novel approach that uses batch-fabricated, thin-film magnets integrated onto the micro part surfaces for self-assembly.

Applications

Magnetic self-assembly of microscale parts for application to multi-chip microsystems, including RFID tags, microbatteries, MEMS, power systems, and electro-optics

Advantages

  • Satisfies precision requirements of microscale technologies, providing a significant competitive advantage over existing assembly approaches
  • Eliminates need for human or robotic manipulation, reducing product manufacturing costs
  • Enables high volume, low-cost manufacturing of complex devices, increasing market infiltration and providing huge profit potential
  • Provides unique capabilities that can be easily incorporated into existing assembly processes, minimizing capital investment

Technology

This approach for magnetic self-assembly uses tiny magnets integrated into the micro parts. The integrated magnets provide an attractive force causing chips to bind to one another in a predetermined manner. These micromagnets can be easily integrated into the chips at the wafer lever using standard low-cost, back-end microfabrication processes. The process technology is very amenable to flip-chip bonding, self-packaged devices, stacked dies, thinned dies, and other complex microassembly technologies. During self-assembly, the micromagnets align and hold the parts in place for subsequent heating of solder bumps or other die-attach epoxies.