Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) has been one of the major reliability concerns in the advanced silicon technologies and it becomes more important with technology scaling. It has been reported that more than 35% of the failures in integrated circuits (ICs) are ESD induced. ESD event is a phenomenon that a finite amount of charges transfer between two objects with different potential in a quite short time. Such event contains a large energy and the ICs without proper ESD protection could be destroyed easily, so ESD protection solutions are essential to semiconductor industry. ESD protection design consists of on-chip and off-chip ESD protection design, and the research works in this dissertation are all conducted in on-chip level, which incorporate the ESD protection devices and circuits into the microchip, to provide with basic ESD protection from manufacturing to customer use. The basic idea of ESD protection design is to provide a path with low impedance which directs most of the ESD current to flow through itself instead of the core circuit, and the ESD protection path must be robust enough to make sure that it does not fail before the core circuit. In this way, proper design on protection devices and circuits should be considered carefully. To assist the understanding and design of ESD protection, the ESD event in real world has been classified into a few ESD model including Human Body Model (HBM), Machine Model (MM), Charged Device Model (CDM), etc. Some mainstream testing method and industry standard are also introduced, including Transmission Line Pulse (TLP), and IEC 61000-4-2. ESD protection devices including diode, Gate-Grounded N-type MOSFET (GGNMOS), Silicon Controlled Rectifier (SCR) are basic elements for ESD protection design. In this dissertation, the device characteristics in ESD event and their applications are introduced. From the perspective of the whole chip ESD protection design, the concept of circuit level ESD protection and the ESD clamps are also briefly introduced. Technology Computer Aided Design (TCAD) and Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis (SPICE) simulation is widely used in ESD protection design. In this dissertation, TCAD and SPICE simulation are carried out for a few times for both of pre-tapeout evaluation on characteristics of the proposed device and circuit and post-tapeout analysis on structure operating mechanism. Automotive electronics has been a popular subject in semiconductor industry, and due to the special requirement of the automotive applications like the capacitive pins, the ESD protection device used in such applications need to be specially designed. In this dissertation, a few SCRs without snapback are discussed in detail. To avoid core circuit damages caused the displacement current induced by the large snapback in conventional SCR, an eliminated/minimized snapback is preferred in a selection of the protection device. Two novel SCRs are proposed for High Voltage (HV), Medium Voltage (MV), and Low Voltage (LV) automotive ESD protection. The typical operating temperature for ICs is up to 125°C, however in automotive applications, the operating temperature may extend up to 850°C. In this way, the characteristics of the ESD protection device under the elevated temperatures will be an essential part to investigate for automotive ESD protection design. In this dissertation, the high temperature characteristics of ESD protection devices including diode and a few SCRs is measured and discussed in detail. TCAD simulation are also conducted to explain the underlying physical mechanism. This work provides with a useful insight and information to ESD protection design in high temperature applications. Besides the high temperature environment, ESD protection are also highly needed for electronics working in other extreme environment like the space. Space is an environment that contains kinds of radiation source and at the same time can generate abundant ESD. The ESD adhering to the space systems could be a potential threat to the space electronics. At the same time, the characteristics of the ESD protection part especially the basic protection device used in the space electronics could be influenced after the irradiation in the space. Therefore, the investigation of the radiation effects on ESD protection devices are necessary. In this dissertation, the total ionizing dose (TID) effects on ESD protection devices are investigated. The devices are irradiated with 1.5 MeV He+ and characterized with TLP tester. The pre- and post-irradiation characteristics are compared and the variation on key ESD parameters are analyzed and discussed. This work offers a useful insight on ESD devices' operation under TID and help with the device designing on ESD protection devices for space electronics. Single ESD protection devices are essential part constructing the ESD protection network, however the optimization on ESD clamp circuit design is also important on building an efficient whole chip ESD protection network. In this dissertation, the design and simulation of a novel voltage triggered ESD detection circuit are introduced. The voltage triggered ESD detection circuit is proposed in a 0.18 um CMOS technology. Comparing with the conventional RC based detection circuit, the proposed circuit realizes a higher triggering efficiency with a much smaller footprint, and is immune to false triggering under fast power-up events. The proposed circuit has a better sensitivity to ESD event and is more reliable in ESD protection applications. The leakage current has been a concern with the scaling down of the thickness of the gate oxide. Therefore, a proper design of the ESD clamp for power rail ESD protection need to be specially considered. In this dissertation, a design of a novel ESD clamp with low leakage current is analyzed. The proposed clamp realized a pretty low leakage current up to 12 nA, and has a smaller footprint than conventional design. It also has a long hold-on time under ESD event and a quick turn-off mechanism for false triggering. SPICE simulation is carried out to evaluate the operation of the proposed ESD clamp.


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Graduation Date





Sundaram, Kalpathy


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering

Degree Program

Electrical Engineering









Release Date

February 2018

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)