Modern semiconductor devices are continuing to be scaled down and the complexity of the processes involved in producing the devices keeps increasing; in conjunction with this, sample preparation and analysis are increasingly important for accurately determining the sources of defects and failure mechanisms in terms of process integration. This paper discusses ways to characterize integration-driven defects using deprocessing techniques and cross-section imaging to obtain 3-D views of such defects. As an example, a single-via test structure is evaluated. The article focuses on the techniques used to deprocess the single-via structure using a combination of RIE, FIB, and wet etching to expose the single via while maintaining the integrity of the structure. The resulting 3-D view of the structure and associated defect allowed for improved understanding of the defect and its origin. This understanding enabled process optimization to minimize such defect formation.

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