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Microstructure Evolution during Alternating-Current-lnduced Fatigue



Robert Keller, Roy H. Geiss, Yi-Wen Cheng, David T. Read


Subjecting electronic interconnect lines to high-density, low.frequency alternating current creates cyclic thermomechanical stresses that eventually cause electrical failure. A detailed understanding of the failure process could contribute to both prevention and diagnostics. We tested unpassivated AI-1 Si traces on the NIST -2 test chip; these are 3.5 υm wide by 0.5 υm thick by 800 υm long, with a strong (111) as-deposited fiber texture and an initial average grain diameter of approximately 1 υm. We applied rms current densities of 11.7 to 13.2 MA/cm^2 at 100 Hz. Resistance changes in the lines indicated that such current densities produce temperature cycles at 200 Hz with amplitude exceeding 100 K. Open circuits occurred in under 10 minutes, with substantial surface damage seen after only one minute. A few failures were caused by defects initially present in the lines; e.g., lithography defects, but most were produced by the current alone. In one detailed example presented in this paper, we monitored the damage process by interrupting the current at 10, 20, 40, 80,160, and 320 s in order to characterize an entire line by scanning electron microscopy and automated electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD); failure took place after 697 s. Results are described in terms of deformation, grain growth, and orientation changes.
Proceedings Title
Proc., ASME Intl. Mechanical Engineering Conf.
Conference Dates
November 13-19, 2004
Conference Location
Anaheim, CA, USA
Conference Title
ASME Intl. Mech. Eng. Cong.


ac electromigration, interconnect reliability, thermomechanical fatigue, thin film fatigue


Keller, R. , Geiss, R. , Cheng, Y. and Read, D. (2004), Microstructure Evolution during Alternating-Current-lnduced Fatigue, Proc., ASME Intl. Mechanical Engineering Conf., Anaheim, CA, USA, [online], (Accessed May 30, 2024)


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Created October 31, 2004, Updated October 12, 2021