This article describes the electrical and physical analysis of gate leakage in nanometer transistors using conducting atomic force microscopy (C-AFM), nano-probing, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and chemical decoration on simulated overstressed devices. A failure analysis case study involving a soft single bit failure is detailed. Following the nano-probing analysis, TEM cross sectioning of this failing device was performed. A voltage bias was applied to exaggerate the gate leakage site. Following this deliberate voltage overstress, a solution of boiling 10%wt KOH was used to etch decorate the gate leakage site followed by SEM inspection. Different transistor leakage behaviors can be identified with nano-probing measurements and then compared with simulation data for increased confidence in the failure analysis result. Nano-probing can be used to apply voltage stress on a transistor or a leakage path to worsen the weak point and then observe the leakage site easier.

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