gate oxide breakdown effect, hard breakdown, soft breakdown, hot electron, breakdown location, device reliability, RF circuit performance;


In the modern semiconductor world, there is a significant scaling of the transistor dimensions--The transistor gate length and the gate oxide thickness drop down to only several nanometers. Today the semiconductor industry is already dominated by submicron devices and other material devices for the high transistor density and performance enhancement. In this case, the semiconductor reliability issues are the most important thing for commercialization. The major reliability issues caused by voltage are hot carrier effects (HCs) and gate oxide breakdown (BD) effects. These issues are recently more important to industry, due to the small size and high lateral field in short-channel of the device will cause high electrical field and other reliability issues. This dissertation primarily focuses on the study of the CMOS device gate oxide breakdown effect on different kinds of circuits performance, also some HC effects on circuit's performance are studied. The physical mechanisms for BD have been presented. A practical and accurate equivalent breakdown circuit model for the CMOS device was studied to simulate the RF performance degradation on the circuit level. The BD location effect has been evaluated. Furthermore, a methodology was developed to predict the BD effects on the circuit's performances with different kinds of BD location. It also provides guidance for the reliability considerations of the digital, analog, and RF circuit design. The BD effects on digital circuits SRAM, analog circuits Sample&Hold, and RF building blocks with the nanoscale device--low noise amplifier, LC oscillator, mixer, and power amplifier, have been investigated systematically. Finally 90 nm device will be used to study the HC effect on the circuit's performance. The contributions of this dissertation include: Providing a thorough study of the gate oxide breakdown issues caused by the voltage stress on the device--from device level to circuit level; Studying real voltage stress case--high frequency (950 MHz) dynamic stress, and comparing with the traditional DC stress; A simple, practical, and analytical method is derived to study the gate oxide breakdown effect including breakdown location effect and soft / hard breakdown on the digital, analog and RF circuits performances. A brief introduction and simulation for 90 nm device HC effect provide some useful information and helpful data for the industry. The gate oxide breakdown effect is the most common device reliability issue. The successful results of this dissertation, from device level to circuit level, provide an insight on how the BD affects the circuit's performance, and also provide some useful data for the circuit designers in their future work.


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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

February 2010

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)