_{~}
IPergamon
Microelectron. Reliab., Vol. 37, No. l, pp. 8793, 1997 Copyright © 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved 00262714/97 $15.00+ .00
PII: S00262714(96)002417
RESISTANCE NOISE MEASUREMENT: A BETTER DIAGNOSTIC TOOL TO DETECT STRESS AND CURRENT INDUCED DEGRADATION
L.K.J. VANDAMME and A.J. VAN KEMENADE
Electrical Engineering Department, Eindhoven University of Technology, PO Box 513, 5600 Eindhoven, The Netherlands
(Receivedfor publication 1 November 1995)
Abstract
Mechanical stress and currentinduced degradation can provoke holes and kinks in thin
conducting film%resulting in a local increase in current density around these failures. This type
of degradation resulting in holes or kinks in thin film resistances has been studied. A model
describing the increase in l/f noise and resistance due to a local current density increase around
failures is presented here. Our calculations are in agreement with expermental results obtained
on carbon films damaged
on purpose.
It is shown quantitatively that
l/f noise is a more
sensitive parameter than resistance measurements only. Noise measurement can be used as a
fast and nondestructive technique for reliability testing of LSI A1 interconnects and thinfilm
resistors on the condition that samples effectively contain not more than 10 ]3 ~ee carriers.
Copyright © 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd
INTRODUCTION
Resistometric methods are well known to detect stress and currentinduced degradation
in thin narrow conducting films or interconnects.
Observing
1/f noise, however,
is
a more
sensitive technique to investigate quafity and reliability of electronic components. The increase
in I/f noise, caused by a higher local current density around damages, is significantly stronger
than the increase in resistance. This is valid for all types of conduction fluctuations, whatever
its physical origin [1]. We have developed a simple model for the calculation of the relative
increase in l/f noise and resistance and have compared these calculations with experimental
results. We focused
on one type of damage resulting in holes and/or kinks that lead to
increased local current around these failures. The aim of this paper is to show that: (i) while
leaving the microstructure the same around holes and kinks, there is an increase in resistance
and noise by the increase of current density around the holes, (ii) noise is a more sensitive tool
than resistance measurements only in detecting failures. It is not our aim to include the effect
87
_{8}_{8}
L. K. J. Vandamme and A. J. van Kemenade
of change in microstructure around the
holes
or
to
discuss the
influence
of material
parameters. Here, the minimum increase in noise and resistance is calculated that can be
expected due to a local increase in current density aRer degradation. Calculations are checked
by experimental results.
We
considered
long
narrow
Model
film resistors,
degraded by
holes
or
kinks,
shown
schematically in Fig. 1. The general equations for resistance R and l/f noise in resistance SR
due to conductivity fluctuations are [1,2]
R 
= 
[1 / 
12 ] fpj2dA 
(l) 
SR = [1/I4]/[up2 / nf]j4dA = [1/I4f]/Cusp2j4dA 
(2) 
where 10(~"~) is the sheet resistance; J (A/m) the twodimensional current density; dA (m2) an
area element; n (m2) the twodimensional free charge carrier concentration; ct a dimensionless
l/f noise parameter and C,, (m2) the characteristic l/f noise for a unit area [3,4]. The problem
can also be solved in three dimensions with p(f~cm), J (A/m2), and dA (m3) becomes a volume
element, and n (m3) carrier concentration per unit volume [1].
We approximate the increased local current density around a hole or kink by J = I/W,~ over a
length equal to the width W with Wo~ = W2a, where 2a is the diameter of the hole. The
current density in the undamaged parts is J = I/W. The number of holes or kinks is k. To
simplifythe calculations we assume all holes or kinks have the same dimensions. The resistance
of the k damaged parts then becomes R~ = kpW/Wcfr.
The total resistance of the undamaged
parts is R~ = p(LkW)/W. The resistance of the entire sample becomes
h,
R=Ru+Rd=
'I'
hole
~
2a
1+
\Weft 
kink
L",~
t
_l
1
B
(3)
Fig. 1. Geometry of a resistor with a hole and a kink.
Resistance noise measurement
89
The resistance 1% of the undamaged sample is 1% = pL/W, hence the ratio R/Ro becomes
R / R 0 = 1+
\~

(4)
The same approximations applied to eq. (2) leads for the resistance noise in the k degraded
parts to
and in the undamaged parts to
_{S}_{R} _{d} = RdCus2
/ fkWWefr
2
SRu = RuCus / fW(L  kW)
(5)
(6)
respectively. Resistance noise in the different parts is uncorrelated hence the total resistance
noise density SR is the sum ofeqs. (5) and (6).
SR _ p2Cus [ kW L kWq
_
~
+
f
W;tt
VV'q
J
2
Resistance noise of a failure flee sample is SRO= RoCus / fWL.
the increase in resistance noise
SR/SR0 = 1
L
[\WeffJ  1
(7)
The ratio SR/SRo SHOWS
(8)
The noise increase in Equation (8) can also be written as a function of resistance increase with
R  1% = A R and SR  SRO= A SRwith eqs. (4) and (8) follows
SR0
A.
I(
[kWeffJ
\Weft)
,o,
Equations (4) and (8) are functions of W/L, W/War and k, and the third power in (8) SHowsthe
stronger increase in noise than in resistance due to holes or kinks. From eq. (9) it is also clear
that for W/War> 1 the increase in noise is stronger than in the resistance. For k is larger than 1,
the resistor can be considered as k resistors in series of length L/k and degraded by one hole or
kink, each having the same R/1%and SR/SR0as the total resistor. Only when degradation is due
to an increase in the number of holes or kinks all having the same W/W,n will we find a linear
relation between ASR/S~oand AR/Ro as given by eq. (9) and SR/S~oand R/1% as given by
SR/SRo=R/Ro
~~~
+1
~
%
(io)
90
L.K.J. Vandamrne and A. J. van Kemenade
EXPERIMENTS AND RESULTS
is not
The purpose of our experiments
to
study the degradation process in film
resistors, but the effect of a degradation type (holes and kinks) on the increase in resistance
and the noise.
To verify equations (4) and (8), experiments with decreasing W~ as well as experiments with
increasing k were performed. Carbon paper film resistors with various W/L ratios were used.
The result of a degradation is realised by punching holes in the carbon paper resistors at the
same spot with increased diameter or by punching an increasing number of holes at regular
distances, 
all with the 
same diameter. 
Before 
degradation 
we 
started by measuring the 

reference values R~ and SR0 of the undamaged resistors. 
First, 
experiments 
on 
samples 
degraded by one hole or kink were performed.
After the first damage was made, R and SR
were measured. This process was repeated after each subsequent enlargening of the hole or
kink by using punches with a larger diameter ranging We~W from 0.1 to 1.
The calculated and experimentally observed relative increase in noise versus a relative
increase in resistance for decreasing W~ is presented in Fig. 2. The full lines were calculated
for W/L values of 10/100 and 10/300 from eqs. (4) and (8) with k = 1. The squares represent
the experimental results obtained from 2 resistors with different W/L ratios with one hole with
increasing diameter. The triangles stem from a third sample degraded by an increasing kink.
Second, the experiment with increasing k was performed on a carbon film resistor with
a W/L ratio of 5/563. Again
Ro and SR0 were measured first and this was repeated for each
additional hole all with the same diameter. Measurements were taken for one up to ten holes.
All holes had the same diameter and were distributed equidistantly across the length of the
resistor.
Fig. 3 shows the relative increase in noise versus the relative increase in resistance for
increasing numbers of holes k. The full line was calculated with eqs. (4) and (8), W/Wc~being
constant.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
Although carbon filmq are of no interest in microelectronics they can be used to verify
the calculations. The correlation for the effect of current crowding between a simulation with a
carbon film and A1 filing is perfect.
30 
,[ 
, 
, 
' 
10 W/ 
0130,0 
_{5}
3
2
~
I
1
I
I
I
1.2
W/l=10/I00
I
I
1.4
R/Ro
I
i
1.6

_
Fig. 2. Relative increase in l/f noise versus relative increase in resistance due to one hole or
kink. Full lines are calculated from eqs. (4) and (8). Experinaental results with a hole:
W/L =
10/100 U; W/L = 10/300 ~; and with a kink: W/L = 10/300 A.
2.0
Ts /s 0
1.8
1.5
1.3
10'
.
I"
IIF
1.00
"
/
'
1.05
•
R/Ro
'
1.10
4F
1.15
o.
t
Fig. 3. Relative increase in l/f noise versus relative increase in resistance due to an
increasing
number of holes for W/L = 5/563.
92
L.K.J. Vandamme and A, J. van Kemenade
Experimental results are in good agreement with model calculations. A quantitative
explanation shows why resistance noise measurements are more
sensitive than resistance
measurements only. The relative increase in
1/f noise is a complementary rather than
a
competitive technique compared to classic failure analysis tests and is applicable to LSI AI
interconnects and thinfilm resistors. As early as 1971, Vossen [5] proposed the screening of
metal film defects by current noise measurements without explaining why noise is more
sensitive than resistance measurements only. From the perspective of noise as a diagnostic tool
"l/fynoise" is extremely useful in studies on electromigration activation energies [6,7] and ref.
in [7].
We must stress, however, that eq. (8) only takes into account the increase in noise
intensity due to current density increase around the holes or kinks. If the microstructure around
these damages is affected, the noise intensity will be higher and eq. (8) will no longer be valid.
A catastrophic increase in noise over more than a few decades for only a few percent
additional resistance is due to microscopic changes in the structure around holes and kinks and
not due to a simple increase of current density around a hole in the conducting path. Our
model gives the minimum increase in noise that can be expected on the grounds of increase in
current crowding.
A noise measurement setup for samples with a resistance larger than 10 f~ is standard
[3]. One must realize that if the impedance of the sample is at least 10 C~, but the number of
flee carriers in the sample is larger than
roughly 1013, major
difficulties will be encountered in
observing the noise due to conduction fluctuations above the omnipresent thermal noise and
background noise of the amplifiers. This is due to the fact that the relative noise is inversely
proportional to the number of effective carriers [2]. If interconnect resistances are in series
with relative large series resistances, the l/f noise of the degrading part can again be hidden by
the thermal noise of the series resistance. The method is no longer applicable in such cases.
REFERENCES
[1] 
L.K.J. Vandamme, On the Calculation of l/f Noise of Contacts, Applied Physics, 11, 
8996 (1976). 

[2] 
F.N. Hooge, T.G.M. Kleinpenning and L.K.J. Vandamme, Experimental studies on i/f 
noise, Reports on Progress in Physics, 44, 479522 (1981).
Resistance noise measurement
93
[3] 
L.K.J. Vandamme, 
Criteria of lownoise thickfihn resistors, Electrocomponent Science 
and Technology, 4 171177 (1977) 

[4] 
LK.J. Vandamme, 
Comments on "An exact formula for the effects of resistor 
geometry on current noise", IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices, ED33, 1833 

1834 (1986). 

[5] 
J.L. Vossen, Screening of metal film defects by current noise measurements, Appl. 

Phys. Lett. 23, 287 (1971). 

[6] 
W. Yang and Z. CelikButter, A model for electromigration and low frequency noise in 

thin metal fiim~, Solid State Electron. 34, 911916 (1991). 

[7] 
L.K~J.Vandamme, Noise as a diagnostic tool for quality and reliability of electron 
devices, IEEE Trans Electr. Dev. 41, 21762187 (1994).
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