Breakdown characteristics of nFETs in inversion with metal/HfO2 gate stacks

N. A. Chowdhury, G. Bersuker, C. Young, R. Choi, S. Krishnan, D. Misra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Time zero and time dependent dielectric breakdown (TZBD and TDDB) characteristics of atomic layer deposited (ALD) TiN/HfO2 high-κ gate stacks are studied by applying ramped and constant voltage stress (RVS and CVS), respectively, on the n-channel MOS devices under inversion conditions. For the gate stacks with thin high-κ layers (≤3.3 nm), breakdown (BD) voltage during RVS is controlled by the critical electric field in the interfacial layer (IL), while in the case of thicker high-κ stacks, BD voltage is defined by the critical field in the high-κ layer. Under low gate bias CVS, one can observe different regimes of the gate leakage time evolution starting with the gate leakage current reduction due to electron trapping in the bulk of the dielectric to soft BD and eventually hard BD. The duration of each regime, however, depends on the IL and high-κ layer thicknesses. The observed strong correlation between the stress-induced leakage current (SILC) and frequency-dependent charge pumping (CP) measurements for the gate stacks with various high-κ thicknesses indicates that the degradation of the IL triggers the breakdown of the entire gate stack. Weibull plots of time-to-breakdown (TBD) suggest that the quality of the IL strongly affects the TDDB characteristics of the Hf-based high-κ gate stacks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-35
Number of pages9
JournalMicroelectronic Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Dielectric breakdown
  • High-κ dielectrics


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