ESD : RF Technology and Circuits

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This return on investment however only pays off for ultra high volume applications. Due to the use of sensitive elements such as ultra thin-oxide transistors, ultra-shallow junctions, narrow and thin metal layers , increased complexity through multiple voltage domains and the use of IP blocks from various vendors, a comprehensive ESD protection strategy becomes more important. The solutions are validated in tens of products running in foundry and proprietary fabrication plants. Due to the shrinking design rules the lithography masks get more expensive at every node now up to a few million dollars at 40nm.

Further, also the cost for EDA software continues to rise because both the SoC designs and the process design constraints get more complex requiring ever more powerful software.

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This growing complexity is also visible in the rising labor costs for design, layout and test. Despite this rising development cost IC design companies continue to use the most advanced CMOS technology for high performance applications because benefits like lower power dissipation, increased gate density, higher speed and lower manufacturing cost per die more than compensate the higher cost.

Figure 2: Relative cost per function is one of the driving forces behind the CMOS technology scaling.

Unfortunately, several factors can strongly reduce the market share and profit margins. For instance in the now dominant market of consumer electronics, the product cycles are much shorter and the price erosion stronger than a few years back which means that time to market is important. One major factor is out of control of IC designers: the consumer electronics business is rapidly changing. One day a product is hot, the next day it is outdated and new features must be added to please end customers.

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Another important factor is the yield of the production and assembly. Due to the use of sensitive thin-oxide transistors, increased complexity through multiple voltage domains and the use of IP blocks from various vendors a comprehensive ESD protection strategy becomes ever more important. The paper first describes the challenges for ESD protection in 40nm and 28nm CMOS followed by some ESD relevant trends and finally an overview of silicon validated clamps for core protection, high speed interconnects, wireless interfaces, overvoltage tolerant 3V IOs.

Electrostatic Discharge ESD is the sudden discharge of a charged body and it is inevitable during the processing and assembly of electronic integrated circuits. The ESD device shunts the excess current to ground and limits the on-chip voltage drop below critical levels.

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The first subsection below describes how this critical voltage drop has evolved for advanced CMOS and its influence on ESD design decisions. The second subsection describes how the use of tens of voltage domains in one IC System on Chip creates additional issues during ESD stress.

ESD protection circuit for V-band RF applications in a 65nm CMOS technology

If the voltage rises above this level functional circuits will be damaged. The core power supply Vdd and IO signal voltage level has been reduced from 5V in 0. The critical voltage level Vmax has decreased much stronger from more than 20V in 0.

Both trends are summarized in figure 3. Clearly the design margin has been strongly reduced in advanced CMOS technology. While most signal interfaces in 40nm and 28nm may still use 1. A few examples are given below. Figure 4: Core logic using thin oxide transistors reduce the maximum transient voltage at the Vdd line to about 4V: 1 the use of thin oxide gate as a decoupling capacitance 2 series connected inverters have a breakdown voltage similar to the gate oxide breakdown voltage.

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This strongly reduces the ESD design margin in the 1. The small design margin for the core devices actually forces IC designers to take new and unique ESD protection measures because the traditional approaches have run out of steam from 90nm and 65nm nodes on.


However, besides the cases defined above other issues arise in advanced CMOS circuits. With the growth of high-speed telecommunications and wireless technology, it is becoming increasingly important for engineers to understand radio frequency RF applications and their sensitivity to electrostatic discharge ESD phenomena. Device and circuit engineers working in the RF domain, and quality, reliability and failure analysis engineers will also find it a valuable reference in the rapidly growing are of RF ESD design.

In addition, it will appeal to graduate students in RF microwave technology and RF circuit design.

ESD: Design and Synthesis [Book]

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ESD: RF Technology and Circuits

Learn More. Foundry Technologies Learn about our cutting-edge foundry technologies! Get in Touch Contact Qorvo via phone, email or form. Qorvo's Vision Our journey for a better, more connected tomorrow. Why Qorvo? See the top reasons to work at Qorvo. July 26, This test simulates an ESD event in which a human body discharges the accumulated electrostatic charge by touching an IC.

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This test simulates charging and discharging events that occur in production equipment and processes. The system-level stress event and its effect on the entire product. The board-level interactions in the system, along with the transient behavior of the pins that contact the outside of the electronic part during ESD stress. Efficient characterization methods like component-level transmission line pulse TLP data, to analyze the IC, board and system interactions.

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