The patent's assignee is
News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "In the field of integrated circuit testing, many solutions exist for electrically connecting the leads of the integrated circuit (IC) device and a test apparatus. Many of the current solutions have interconnect designs that do not allow for very small IC devices. As the trend is for these IC devices to get smaller and smaller, a solution that will enable testing of smaller IC devices is needed. One of the main reasons the current designs are not able to test smaller IC devices is the need to accommodate a ground contacting solution within the limited space of the socket. It is therefore desirable to have a ground contact design that is smaller whilst still meeting reliability and economical requirements.
"Another consideration in the testing of IC devices is the assembly time of the testing solution. Current solutions have typically 3 or 4 elements that have to be assembled, and this takes time. It is therefore desirable to have a design that allows faster assembly of the testing solution.
"Yet another consideration in the testing of IC devices is the gram force exerted by the electrical contact on the IC device and test apparatus during testing. The lower the gram force, the less wear and tear there is on the contact points of the testing apparatus. There is however, a minimum gram force that is needed to ensure proper testing. It is therefore desirable to be able to control the gram force."
As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "The present invention seeks to overcome the aforementioned disadvantages by providing a vertically oriented ground contact design, which requires minimal space and allows for testing of IC devices down to, for example, 2 mm.times.2 mm, 2 mm.times.3 mm, 3 mm.times.3 mm, 1.8 mm.times.2.6 mm, 3.2 mm.times.1.8 mm, etc. in size, whilst providing a good electrical contact with maximum area of electrical connectivity, is coplanar, and has increased mean time between assists (MTBA) and mean time between fracture (MTBF). The present invention comprises 3 elements with a design that allows for quick assembly, and allows control of gram force by virtue of the placement of the compressible member in its design.
"This invention thus relates to a ground electrical contact for an integrated circuit (IC) testing apparatus that comprises: a rigid bottom member having two planar surfaces that slope towards each other, so that the bottom member forms a partial wedge shape with the narrower end of the wedge facing upwards; a flexible top member having two arms extending over said bottom member such that the top member forms an inverted U-shape, said two arms having an inwards bias when clasped over the said bottom member, such that an inner surface of each arm is pressed in contact with each planar surface; and a compressible member located between the narrower end of said bottom member and a bifurcation inner surface, which is an inner surface where the two arms bifurcate in the top member. The angle of the slope of the planar surfaces of the bottom member to the vertical is preferably between 0.degree. and 20.degree., more preferably between 13.degree. and 17.degree., and even more preferably around 15.degree.. The bottom member and top member are made of an electrically conductive material. The compressible member can be made of any compressible material including elastomeric materials such as, but not limited to, silicon rubber.
"The said inwards bias of the two arms is created so: The top member is designed to allow flexing of the two arms about the top of the inverted U-shape. The said arms are designed to be such a distance apart from each other when unstressed, so that an inwards bias is created when the two arms are positioned over the bottom member. This results in an inner surface of said left arm being pressed in contact with said left planar surface, and an inner surface of said right arm being pressed in contact with said right planar surface.
"Although the above is a preferred embodiment, there is also an embodiment where the two planar surfaces do not slope towards each other, but are parallel with each other. In this embodiment, the inwards bias of the two arms against the bottom member provides for continuous contact between the top and bottom members during testing of an IC device, that is, when the top member is pushed down towards the bottom member.
"In a preferred embodiment, the compressible member has a cylindrical shape, with its axis in a horizontal plane, that is, perpendicular to a force applied to it during testing of the IC device. In this embodiment, the narrower end of the bottom member is adapted to match and receive the said compressible member. In other words, the narrower end of the bottom member has an upper side that is curved to receive the cylindrical shape of the compressible member. Also in this embodiment, an inner surface of the top member where the two arms bifurcate, known as the bifurcate inner surface, is also adapted, or curved, to match and receive the cylindrical shape of the compressible member. Other objects and advantages will be more fully apparent from the following disclosure and appended claims.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
"FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a ground contact in an embodiment of the present invention.
"FIG. 2 shows a cross-sectional view of a ground contact in an uncompressed state in an embodiment of the present invention.
"FIG. 3 shows a cross-sectional view of a ground contact in a compressed state in an embodiment of the present invention.
"FIG. 4 shows a cross-sectional view of a ground contact in an embodiment of the present invention assembled in its cavity and socket housing."
For additional information on this patent application, see: KUONG,
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