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IPergamon

Microelectron. Reliab., Vol. 37, No. l, pp. 87-93, 1997 Copyright © 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved 0026-2714/97 $15.00+ .00

PII: S0026-2714(96)00241-7

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 current-induced 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 non-destructive technique for reliability testing of LSI A1 interconnects and thin-film

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 current-induced 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 micro-structure 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

88

L. K. J. Vandamme and A. J. van Kemenade

of change in micro-structure 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 two-dimensional current density; dA (m2) an

area element; n (m2) the two-dimensional 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~ = W-2a, 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(L-kW)/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

SR 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 thin-film 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 set-up 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,

89-96 (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, 479-522 (1981).

Resistance noise measurement

93

[3]

L.K.J. Vandamme,

Criteria of low-noise thick-fihn resistors, Electrocomponent Science

and Technology, 4 171-177 (1977)

[4]

LK.J. Vandamme,

Comments on "An exact formula for the effects of resistor

geometry on current noise", IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices, ED-33, 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. Celik-Butter, A model for electromigration and low frequency noise in

thin metal fiim~, Solid State Electron. 34, 911-916 (1991).

[7]

L.K~J.Vandamme, Noise as a diagnostic tool for quality and reliability of electron

devices, IEEE Trans Electr. Dev. 41, 2176-2187 (1994).