Defects associated with metal-insulator-metal (MIM) capacitor failures can be difficult to locate using conventional fault isolation techniques because the capacitors are usually buried within a stack of back-end metal layers. In this paper, the authors explain, step by step, how they determined the cause of MIM capacitor failures, in one case, in an overvoltage protection device, and in another, a high-speed digital isolator circuit. The process begins with a preliminary fault isolation study based on OBIRCH or PEM imaging followed by more detailed analyses involving focused ion beam (FIB) cross-sectioning and delayering, micro- or nano-probing, resistive or voltage contrast imaging, and other such techniques.

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