Traditional micro-probing and electrical characterization at the transistor level for sub-100nm technologies has become very difficult if not virtually impossible. Scanning probe microscopy technology specifically atomic force probing was developed in response to these issues with traditional micro-probing. The case studies presented in this paper demonstrate how atomic force probing was used to characterize failing sub-100nm transistors, identify possible failure mechanisms, and allow device/process engineers to make adjustments to the wafer fabrication process to correct the problem even though physical analysis with scanning election microscope/transmission electron microscope was not able to image and identify a failure mechanism. The probable causes for the transistor level failures are being identified through test methods, computer simulations, and electrical analysis by means of the atomic force probe after the failure has been sufficiently localized to a minimum number of transistors.

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