Design for reliability, radio frequency, process variability, adaptive biasing, power amplifier, injection locking, voltage controlled oscillator


Due to continued device dimensions scaling, CMOS transistors in the nanometer regime have resulted in major reliability and variability challenges. Reliability issues such as channel hot electron injection, gate dielectric breakdown, and negative bias temperature instability (NBTI) need to be accounted for in the design of robust RF circuits. In addition, process variations in the nanoscale CMOS transistors are another major concern in today‟s circuits design. An adaptive gate-source biasing scheme to improve the RF circuit reliability is presented in this work. The adaptive method automatically adjusts the gate-source voltage to compensate the reduction in drain current subjected to various device reliability mechanisms. A class-AB RF power amplifier shows that the use of a source resistance makes the power-added efficiency robust against threshold voltage and mobility variations, while the use of a source inductance is more reliable for the input third-order intercept point. A RF power amplifier with adaptive gate biasing is proposed to improve the circuit device reliability degradation and process variation. The performances of the power amplifier with adaptive gate biasing are compared with those of the power amplifier without adaptive gate biasing technique. The adaptive gate biasing makes the power amplifier more resilient to process variations as well as the device aging such as mobility and threshold voltage degradation. Injection locked voltage-controlled oscillators (VCOs) have been examined. The VCOs are implemented using TSMC 0.18 µm mixed-signal CMOS technology. The injection locked oscillators have improved phase noise performance than free running oscillators. iv A differential Clapp-VCO has been designed and fabricated for the evaluation of hot electron reliability. The differential Clapp-VCO is formed using cross-coupled nMOS transistors, on-chip transformers/inductors, and voltage-controlled capacitors. The experimental data demonstrate that the hot carrier damage increases the oscillation frequency and degrades the phase noise of Clapp-VCO. A p-channel transistor only VCO has been designed for low phase noise. The simulation results show that the phase noise degrades after NBTI stress at elevated temperature. This is due to increased interface states after NBTI stress. The process variability has also been evaluated.


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Graduation Date





Yuan, Jiann S.


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Degree Program

Electrical Engineering








Release Date

May 2012

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


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