Deprocessing is an essential step in the physical failure analysis of ICs. Typically, this is accomplished by techniques such as wet chemical methods, RIE, and mechanical manual polishing. Manual polishing suffers from highly non-uniform delayering particularly for sub 20nm technologies due to aggressive back-end-of-line scaling and porous ultra low-k dielectric films. Recently gas assisted Xe plasma FIB has demonstrated uniform delayering of the metal and dielectric layers, achieving a planar surface of heterogeneous materials. In this paper, the successful application of this technique to delayer sub-20 nm microprocessor chips with real defects to root cause the failure is presented.

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