For a certain class of defects substantial time has to be invested to be able to pinpoint the exact electrical failure location and to perform an accurate and conclusive physical characterization. This article shows that 3D scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) tomography in conjunction with an original sample preparation method is a valuable technique to tackle this class of defects and that it can provide very accurate and useful information on these defects. The developed method is applied to analyze several failing devices that are all designed with 45nm design rules and fabricated using a 45 nm technology, and is illustrated with 3 different case studies, each referring to one fault localization method. It is concluded that 3D STEM tomography can provide conclusive 3-dimensional analytical and morphological information on the localized defect, provided that special care is taken to prepare a well-adapted sample.

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