Characterization and Modeling of High Power Microwave Effects in CMOS Microelectronics

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The intentional use of high power microwave (HPM) signals to disrupt microelectronic systems is a substantial threat to vital infrastructure. Conventional methods to assess HPM threats involve empirical testing of electronic equipment, which provides no insight into fundamental mechanisms of HPM induced upset. The work presented in this dissertation is part of a broad effort to develop more effective means for HPM threat assessment. Comprehensive experimental evaluation of CMOS digital electronics was performed to provide critical information of the elementary mechanisms that govern the dynamics of HPM effects. Results show that electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection devices play a significant role in the behavior of circuits irradiated by HPM pulses. The PN junctions of the ESD protection devices distort HPM waveforms producing DC voltages at the input of the core logic elements, which produces output bit errors and abnormal circuit power dissipation. The dynamic capacitance of these devices combines with linear parasitic elements to create resonant structures that produce nonlinear circuit dynamics such as spurious oscillations. The insight into the fundamental mechanisms this research has revealed will contribute substantially to the broader effort aimed at identifying and mitigating susceptibilities in critical systems. Also presented in this work is a modeling technique based on scalable analytical circuit models that accounts for the non-quasi-static behavior of the ESD protection PN junctions. The results of circuit simulations employing these device models are in excellent agreement with experimental measurements, and are capable of predicting the threshold of effect for HPM driven non-linear circuit dynamics. For the first time, a deterministic method of evaluating HPM effects based on physical, scalable device parameters has been demonstrated. The modeling presented in this dissertation can be easily integrated into design cycles and will greatly aid the development of electronic systems with improved HPM immunity.