Oxide Breakdown, Hot Carrier, NBTI, MOS, Device and Circuit, Reliability


As CMOS device sizes shrink, the channel electric field becomes higher and the hot carrier (HC) effect becomes more significant. When the oxide is scaled down to less than 3 nm, gate oxide breakdown (BD) often takes place. As a result, oxide trapping and interface generation cause long term performance drift and related reliability problems in devices and circuits. The RF front-end circuits include low noise amplifier (LNA), local oscillator (LO) and mixer. It is desirable for a LNA to achieve high gain with low noise figure, a LO to generate low noise signal with sufficient output power, wide tuning range, and high stability, and a mixer to up-convert or down-convert the signal with good linearity. However, the RF front-end circuit performance is very sensitive to the variation of device parameters. The experimental results show that device performance is degraded significantly subject to HC stress and BD. Therefore, RF front-end performance is degraded by HC and BD effects. With scaling and increasing chip power dissipation, operating temperatures for device have also been increasing. Another reliability concern, which is the negative bias temperature instability (NBTI) caused by the interface traps under high temperature and negative gate voltage bias, arises when the operation temperature of devices increases. NBTI has received much attention in recent year and it is found that NIT is present for all stress conditions and NOT is found to occur at high VG. Therefore, the probability of BD in pMOSFET increases with temperature since trapped charges during the NBTI process increase, thus resulting in percolation, a main cause of oxide degradation. The above effects can cause significant degradations in transistors, thus leading to the shifts of RF performance. This dissertation focuses on the following aspects: (1) RF performance degradation in nMOSFET and pMOSFET due to hot carrier and soft breakdown effects are examined experimentally and will be used for circuit application in the future. (2) A modeling method to analyze the gate oxide breakdown effects on RF nMOSFET has been proposed. The device performance drifts due to gate oxide breakdown are examined, breakdown spot resistance and total gate capacitance are extracted before and after stress for 0.16 um CMOS technology. (3) LC voltage controlled oscillator (VCO) performance degradation due to gate oxide breakdown effect is evaluated. (4) NBTI, HCI and BD combined effects on RF performance degradation are investigated. A physical picture illustrating the NBTI induced BD process is presented. A model to evaluate the time-to-failure (TTF) during NBTI is developed. DCIV method is used to extract the densities of NIT and NOT. Measurements show that there is direct correlation between the steplike increase in the gate current and the oxide-trapped charge (NOT). However, Breakdown has nothing to do with interface traps (NIT). (5) It is found that the degradation due to NSH stress is more severe than that of NS stress at high temperature. A model aiming to evaluate the stress-induced degradation is also developed.


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Graduation Date





Yuan, Jiann S.


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Degree Program

Electrical Engineering








Release Date

May 2005

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)