Esd, rf, gaas, ic


Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) phenomenon is a common phenomenon in daily life and it could damage the integrated circuit throughout the whole cycle of product from the manufacturing. Several ESD stress models and test methods have been used to reproduce ESD events and characterize ESD protection device's performance. The basic ESD stress models are: Human Body Model (HBM), Machine Model (MM), and Charged Device Model (CDM). On-chip ESD protection devices are widely used to discharge ESD current and limit the overstress voltage under different ESD events. Some effective ESD protection devices were reported for low speed circuit applications such as analog ICs or digital ICs in CMOS process. On the contrast, only a few ESD protection devices available for radio frequency integrated circuits (RF ICs). ESD protection for RF ICs is more challenging than traditional low speed CMOS ESD protection design because of the facts that: (1) Process limitation: High-performance RF ICs are typically fabricated in compound semiconductor process such as GaAs pHEMT and SiGe HBT process. And some proved effective ESD devices (e.g. SCR) are not able to be fabricated in those processes due to process limitation. Moreover, compound semiconductor process has lower thermal conductivity which will worsen its ESD damage immunity. (2) Parasitic capacitance limitation: Even for RF CMOS process, the inherent parasitic capacitance of ESD protection devices is a big concern. Therefore, this dissertation will contribute on ESD protection designs for RF ICs in all the major processes including GaAs pHEMT, SiGe BiCMOS and standard CMOS. iv The ESD protection for RF ICs in GaAs pHEMT process is very difficult, and the typical HBM protection level is below 1-kV HBM level. The first part of our work is to analyze pHEMT's snapback, post-snapback saturation and thermal failure under ESD stress using TLP-like Sentaurus TCAD simulation. The snapback is caused by virtual bipolar transistor due to large electron-hole pairs impacted near drain region. Postsnapback saturation is caused by temperature-induced mobility degradation due to IIIV compound semiconductor materials' poor thermal conductivity. And thermal failure is found to be caused by hot spot located in pHEMT's InGaAs layer. Understanding of these physical mechanisms is critical to design effective ESD protection device in GaAs pHEMT process. Several novel ESD protection devices were designed in 0.5um GaAs pHEMT process. The multi-gate pHEMT based ESD protection devices in both enhancementmode and depletion-mode were reported and characterized then. Due to the multiple current paths available in the multi-gate pHEMT, the new ESD protection clamp showed significantly improved ESD performances over the conventional single-gate pHEMT ESD clamp, including higher current discharge capability, lower on-state resistance, and smaller voltage transient. We proposed another further enhanced ESD protection clamp based on a novel drain-less, multi-gate pHEMT in a 0.5um GaAs pHEMT technology. Based on Barth 4002 TLP measurement results, the ESD protection devices proposed in this chapter can improve the ESD level from 1-kV (0.6 A It2) to up to 8-kV ( > 5.2 A It2) under HBM. v Then we optimized SiGe-based silicon controlled rectifiers (SiGe SCR) in SiGe BiCMOS process. SiGe SCR is considered a good candidate ESD protection device in this process. But the possible slow turn-on issue under CDM ESD events is the major concern. In order to optimize the turn-on performance of SiGe SCR against CDM ESD, the Barth 4012 very fast TLP (vfTLP) and vfTLP-like TCAD simulation were used for characterization and analysis. It was demonstrated that a SiGe SCR implemented with a P PLUG layer and minimal PNP base width can supply the smallest peak voltage and fastest response time which is resulted from the fact that the impact ionization region and effective base width in the SiGe SCR were reduced due to the presence of the P PLUG layer. This work demonstrated a practical approach for designing optimum ESD protection solutions for the low-voltage/radio frequency integrated circuits in SiGe BiCMOS process. In the end, we optimized SCRs in standard silicon-based CMOS process to supply protection for high speed/radio-frequency ICs. SCR is again considered the best for its excellent current handling ability. But the parasitic capacitance of SCRs needs to be reduced to limit SCR's impact to RF performance. We proposed a novel SCR-based ESD structure and characterize it experimentally for the design of effective ESD protection in high-frequency CMOS based integrated circuits. The proposed SCR-based ESD protection device showed a much lower parasitic capacitance and better ESD performance than the conventional SCR and a low-capacitance SCR reported in the literature. The physics underlying the low capacitance was explained by measurements using HP 4284 capacitance meter. vi Throughout the dissertation work, all the measurements are mainly conducted using Barth 4002 transimission line pulsing (TLP) and Barth 4012 very fast transmission line pulsing (vfTLP) testers. All the simulation was performed using Sentaurus TCAD tool from Synopsys.


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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

Degree Program

Electrical Engineering








Release Date

May 2013

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


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