A New In Situ Microscopy Approach to Study the Degradation and Failure Mechanisms of Time-Dependent Dielectric Breakdown: Set-Up and Opportunities


  • The authors would like to thank Douglas Stauffer, Ryan Major and Oden Warren (Hysitron Inc.) for their technical support and fruitful discussions. We thank HZB for the allocation of synchrotron radiation beamline and Stephan Werner (HZB) for the support during the experiments at the HZB-TXM. The support of the Center for Advancing Electronics Dresden (cfaed) at Technische Universität Dresden is acknowledged.


The time dependent dielectric breakdown (TDDB) in copper/ultra-low-k on-chip interconnect stacks of integrated circuits has become one of the most critical reliability concerns in recent years. In this paper, a novel experimental in situ microscopy approach using transmission X-ray microscopy (TXM) and scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) is proposed to study TDDB degradation and failure mechanisms. It combines electrical testing and imaging techniques. Low-dose bright field (BF) STEM inserting a small condenser aperture is chosen to reduce the beam damage of the dielectric material, while the electron spectroscopic imaging technique is used for the chemical analysis to detect the migration path of Cu atoms. This new experimental approach will contribute to an improved understanding of the TDDB effect.