EXPERIMENTAL STUDY OF BIAS TEMPERATURE INSTABILITY AND PROGRESSIVE BREAKDOWN OF ADVANCED GATE DIELECTRICS
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With shrinking gate dielectrics, the reliability requirements of semiconductor gate dielectrics become more and more difficult to maintain. New physical mechanisms and phenomena are discovered and new challenges arise. At the same time, some issues, which have been minor in the past, begin to show bigger impact, such as the Negative Bias Temperature Instability issue. The dynamic NBTI phenomenon was studied with ultrathin SiO2 and HfO2 devices. With a dynamic stress condition, the device lifetime can be largely extended due to the reduced NBTI degradation. This reduction is contributed to the annealing of fixed oxide charges during the stress off period. A mathematical model is also established to explain this phenomenon. With alternative gate dielectrics' introduction, new issues associated with these materials and device structures are also raised. Those issues need to be studied in detail before fully incorporation of new materials. Compared with SiO2 devices, the NBTI degradation of HfO2 has a similar trend. However, it is found that they have different frequency response than the SiO2 devices. This difference is later found due to the traps inside the gate dielectrics. Detailed studies show that NBTI degradations at dc stress and dynamic stress conditions have different temperature acceleration factors due to the bulk traps. The disappearance of this difference by insetting a detrapping period further proves this observation. As we enter the ultrathin gate dielectrics regime, the electron tunneling mechanisms behind the gate dielectrics breakdown shift. Consequently, gate dielectrics breakdown mode also shifts from the clear-detected hard breakdown to the noisy soft breakdown. Thus new lifetime extrapolation models are needed. The progressive breakdown of ultrathin SiO2 is studied by a two-step test methodology. By monitoring the degradation of the progressive breakdown path in terms of the activation energy, the voltage acceleration factor, two kinds of breakdown filaments, the stable one and the unstable one, were studied. The stable filament is found to be a breakdown filament independent of the original breakdown filament, and the unstable filament is the continuing degradation of the original filament.