Passive voltage contrast (PVC) is a phenomenon seen while inspecting a semiconductor device where imaged circuit features have a different value of contrast depending on whether that feature has an electrical path to ground, another circuit element, or has an open connection. A common method of fault isolation during failure analysis is to use these contrast values to determine if a feature is incorrectly connected indicating a defect is present. This paper discusses a fault identification method by creating a simulated PVC reference that can be displayed next to the scanning electron microscope PVC image for a comparison of the expected PVC. The procedure of how to create the PVC reference is discussed using functions found in tools typically used to run a Design Rules Check in commonly available software. Three examples are given of how this methodology could be used to provide further analysis capabilities during fault isolation.

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