The transistor is one of the basic building blocks of modern electronics, and the life expectancy or reliability of a transistor is often projected based on the response to an accelerated stress condition. Changes in the transistor's threshold voltage (the point at which it switches on) are typically monitored during these lifetime projections.
The threshold voltage of certain types of transistors (p-type) is known to shift during accelerated stresses involving negative voltages and elevated temperatures, a characteristic known as "negative bias temperature instability" (NBTI). This threshold voltage shift recovers to varying degrees once the stress has ended. This "recovery" makes the task of measuring the threshold voltage shift very challenging and greatly complicates the prediction of a transistor's lifetime.
As semiconductor devices reach nanoscale (billionth of a meter) dimensions, measuring this device reliability accurately becomes more important because of new materials, new structures, higher operating temperatures and quantum mechanical effects. Many NBTI studies show that the accuracy of the measured threshold voltage shift (and consequent accuracy of the lifetime prediction) depends strongly on how quickly the threshold voltage can be measured after the stress is finished. So, NIST engineers began making threshold voltage measurements at very fast speeds, leaving as little as two microsceconds (millionths of a second) between measurements instead of the traditional half-second interval. What they observed was surprising.
"We found that NBTI recovery not only returned the threshold voltage to its pre-stressed state but briefly passed this mark and temporarily allowed the transistor to behave better than the pre-stressed state," says Jason Campbell, a member of the NIST team (that includes Kin Cheung and John Suehle) who presented this finding at the recent Symposium on VLSI Technology in Hawaii. The NBTI effect generally is believed to result from the buildup of positive charges, he explained, but the new observations at NIST indicate the presence of negative charge as well. NIST's ultra-fast and ultra-sensitive measurements revealed that during recovery, the positive charges dissipated faster than the electrons, giving the system a momentary negative charge and heightened conductivity.
To date, Campbell says, transistor manufacturers only consider the accumulation of positive charges to predict the longevity of their microelectronics devices. "But as these systems get smaller and smaller, the electron trapping phenomenon we observed will need to be considered as well to ensure that transistor lifetime predictions stay accurate," he says. "Our research will now focus on developing and refining the ability to measure that impact."
Michael E. Newman | EurekAlert!
Did you know that the wrapping of Easter eggs benefits from specialty light sources?
13.04.2017 | Heraeus Noblelight GmbH
To e-, or not to e-, the question for the exotic 'Si-III' phase of silicon
05.04.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy