In this work, a slightly unetched gate hard mask failure was analyzed by nano probing. Although unetched hard mask failures are commonly detected from the cross sectional view with FIB or FIB-TEM and planar view with the voltage contrast, in this case of the very slightly unetched hard mask, it was difficult to find the defects within the failed area by physical analysis methods. FIB is useful due to its function of milling and checking from the one region to another region within the suspected area, but the defect, located under contact was very tiny. So, it could not be detected in the tilted-view of the FIB. However, the state of the failure could be understood from the electrical analysis using a nano probe due to its ability to probe contact nodes across the fail area. Among the transistors in the fail area, one transistor’s characteristics showed higher leakage current and lower ON current than expected. After physical analysis, slightly remained hard mask was detected by TEM. Chemical processing was followed to determine the gate electrode (WSi2) connection to tungsten contact. It was also proven that when gate is floated, more leakage current flows compared to the state that the zero voltage is applied to the gate. This was not verified by circuit simulation due to the floating nodes.

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