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In situ time-dependent dielectric breakdown in the transmission electron microscope: A possibility to understand the failure mechanism in microelectronic devices

: Liao, Zhongquan; Gall, Martin; Yeap, Kong Boon; Sander, Christoph; Clausner, André; Mühle, Uwe; Gluch, Jürgen; Standke, Gisela; Aubel, Oliver; Beyer, Armand; Hauschildt, Meike; Zschech, Ehrenfried


Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE. Online resource (2015), Nr.100, Art. e52447
ISSN: 1940-087X
Fraunhofer IKTS ()
reliability; copper interconnect; degradation kinetics; in situ TEM

The time-dependent dielectric breakdown (TDDB) in on-chip interconnect stacks is one of the most critical failure mechanisms for microelectronic devices. The aggressive scaling of feature sizes, both on devices and interconnects, leads to serious challenges to ensure the required product reliability. Standard reliability tests and post-mortem failure analysis provide only limited information about the physics of failure mechanisms and degradation kinetics. Therefore it is necessary to develop new experimental approaches and procedures to study the TDDB failure mechanisms and degradation kinetics in particular. In this paper, an in situ experimental methodology in the transmission electron microscope (TEM) is demonstrated to investigate the TDDB degradation and failure mechanisms in Cu/ULK interconnect stacks. High quality imaging and chemical analysis are used to study the kinetic process. The in situ electrical test is integrated into the TEM to provide an elevated electrical field to the dielectrics. Electron tomography is utilized to characterize the directed Cu diffusion in the insulating dielectrics. This experimental procedure opens a possibility to study the failure mechanism in interconnect stacks of microelectronic products, and it could also be extended to other structures in active devices.