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Electrical and Reliability Characterization of Ultra-Thin Film Dielectrics: Trends and Challenges



John S. Suehle


The reliability of gate oxides is becoming more of a concern as oxide thickness is scaled below 5 nm to achieve satisfactory circuit performance in advanced CMOS technologies. Unlike devices fabricated in earlier generation technologies, advanced CMOS devices will operate with higher gate electric fields and direct tunneling currents passing through the gate-dielectric. Characterizing the reliability of ultra-thin gate oxides presents a new challenge to quality and reliability engineers. Traditional testing techniques may not be applicable for monitoring and characterizing the integrity and reliability of ultra-thin films. Charge-to-breakdown [Qbd] tests may no longer provide meaningful information since direct tunneling current can inject a significant amount of charge at low electric fields. Quasi or soft breakdown events in ultra-thin films make catastrophic breakdown difficult to observe. This requires the modification of failure criteria in standardized reliability tests. In addition, quantum mechanical effects and polysilicon gate electrode depletion must now be considered when determining the oxide electric field.
Future Fab International


breakdown, characterization, dielectrics, reliability, ultra-thin


Suehle, J. (1998), Electrical and Reliability Characterization of Ultra-Thin Film Dielectrics: Trends and Challenges, Future Fab International (Accessed April 24, 2024)
Created February 1, 1998, Updated February 17, 2017