Electric capacity, Electric discharges, Low voltage integrated circuits


Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is defined as the transfer of charge between bodies at different potentials. The electrostatic discharge induced integrated circuit damages occur throughout the whole life of a product from the manufacturing, testing, shipping, handing, to end user operating stages. This is particularly true as microelectronics technology continues shrink to nano-metric dimensions. The ESD related failures is a major IC reliability concern and results in a loss of millions dollars to the semiconductor industry each year. Several ESD stress models and test methods have been developed to reproduce the real world ESD discharge events and quantify the sensitivity of ESD protection structures. The basic ESD models are: Human body model (HBM), Machine model (MM), and Charged device model (CDM). To avoid or reduce the IC failure due to ESD, the on-chip ESD protection structures and schemes have been implemented to discharge ESD current and clamp overstress voltage under different ESD stress events. Because of its simple structure and good performance, the junction diode is widely used in on-chip ESD protection applications. This is particularly true for ESD protection of lowvoltage ICs where a relatively low trigger voltage for the ESD protection device is required. However, when the diode operates under the ESD stress, its current density and temperature are far beyond the normal conditions and the device is in danger of being damaged. For the design of effective ESD protection solution, the ESD robustness and low parasitic capacitance are two major concerns. The ESD robustness is usually defined after the failure current It2 and on-state resistance Ron. The transmission line pulsing (TLP) measurement is a very effective tool for evaluating the ESD robustness of a circuit or single element. This is particularly helpful in iv characterizing the effect of HBM stress where the ESD-induced damages are more likely due to thermal failures. Two types of diodes with different anode/cathode isolation technologies will be investigated for their ESD performance: one with a LOCOS (Local Oxidation of Silicon) oxide isolation called the LOCOS-bound diode, the other with a polysilicon gate isolation called the polysilicon-bound diode. We first examine the ESD performance of the LOCOS-bound diode. The effects of different diode geometries, metal connection patterns, dimensions and junction configurations on the ESD robustness and parasitic capacitance are investigated experimentally. The devices considered are N+/P-well junction LOCOS-bound diodes having different device widths, lengths and finger numbers, but the approach applies generally to the P+/N-well junction diode as well. The results provide useful insights into optimizing the diode for robust HBM ESD protection applications. Then, the current carrying and voltage clamping capabilities of LOCOS- and polysiliconbound diodes are compared and investigated based on both TCAD simulation and experimental results. Comparison of these capabilities leads to the conclusion that the polysilicon-bound diode is more suited for ESD protection applications due to its higher performance. The effects of polysilicon-bound diode’s design parameters, including the device width, anode/cathode length, finger number, poly-gate length, terminal connection and metal topology, on the ESD robustness are studied. Two figures of merits, FOM_It2 and FOM_Ron, are developed to better assess the effects of different parameters on polysilicon-bound diode’s overall ESD performance. As latest generation package styles such as mBGAs, SOTs, SC70s, and CSPs are going to the millimeter-range dimensions, they are often effectively too small for people to handle with fingers. The recent industry data indicates the charged device model (CDM) ESD event becomes v increasingly important in today’s manufacturing environment and packaging technology. This event generates highly destructive pulses with a very short rise time and very small duration. TLP has been modified to probe CDM ESD protection effectiveness. The pulse width was reduced to the range of 1-10 ns to mimic the very fast transient of the CDM pulses. Such a very fast TLP (VFTLP) testing has been used frequently for CDM ESD characterization. The overshoot voltage and turn-on time are two key considerations for designing the CDM ESD protection devices. A relatively high overshoot voltage can cause failure of the protection devices as well as the protected devices, and a relatively long turn-on time may not switch on the protection device fast enough to effectively protect the core circuit against the CDM stress. The overshoot voltage and turn-on time of an ESD protection device can be observed and extracted from the voltage versus time waveforms measured from the VFTLP testing. Transient behaviors of polysilicon-bound diodes subject to pulses generated by the VFTLP tester are characterized for fast ESD events such as the charged device model. The effects of changing devices’ dimension parameters on the transient behaviors and on the overshoot voltage and turn-on time are studied. The correlation between the diode failure and poly-gate configuration under the VFTLP stress is also investigated. Silicon-controlled rectifier (SCR) is another widely used ESD device for protecting the I/O pins and power supply rails of integrated circuits. Multiple fingers are often needed to achieve optimal ESD protection performance, but the uniformity of finger triggering and current flow is always a concern for multi-finger SCR devices operating under the post-snapback region. Without a proper understanding of the finger turn-on mechanism, design and realization of robust SCRs for ESD protection applications are not possible. Two two-finger SCRs with different combinations of anode/cathode regions are considered, and their finger turn-on vi uniformities are analyzed based on the I-V characteristics obtained from the transmission line pulsing (TLP) tester. The dV/dt effect of pulses with different rise times on the finger turn-on behavior of the SCRs are also investigated experimentally. In this work, unless noted otherwise, all the measurements are conducted using the Barth 4002 transmission line pulsing (TLP) and Barth 4012 very-fast transmission line pulsing (VFTLP) testers.


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Graduation Date





Liou, Juin J.


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Electrical Engineering and Computer Science








Release Date

December 2010

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering and Computer Science, Engineering and Computer Science -- Dissertations, Academic