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The total dose effects on the 1/f noise of deep submicron CMOS transistors

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2014 J. Semicond. 35 024006
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Vol. 35, No. 2

Journal of Semiconductors

February 2014

The total dose effects on the 1/f noise of deep submicron CMOS transistors
Hu Rongbin()1; , Wang Yuxin()1 , and Lu Wu()2
1 Science

and Technology on Analog Integrated Circuit Laboratory, Chongqing 400060, China


Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China

2 Xinjiang

Abstract: Using 0.18 m CMOS transistors, the total dose effects on the 1/f noise of deep-submicron CMOS
transistors are studied for the first time in mainland China. From the experimental results and the theoretic analysis,
we realize that total dose radiation causes a lot of trapped positive charges in STI (shallow trench isolation) SiO2
layers, which induces a current leakage passage, increasing the 1/f noise power of CMOS transistors. In addition,
we design some radiation-hardness structures on the CMOS transistors and the experimental results show that,
until the total dose achieves 750 krad, the 1/f noise power of the radiation-hardness CMOS transistors remains
unchanged, which proves our conclusion.
Key words: total dose; radiation; 1/f noise; CMOS
DOI: 10.1088/1674-4926/35/2/024006
EEACC: 2570

1. Introduction

CMOS transistors alone.

With the development of space techniques, electronic reliability in space radiation environments has attracted more
and more attention around the world1 4 . A lot of works have
been done on digital ICs (integrated circuits)5 7 , but little has
been done on analog ICs. For highly precise analog circuits,
the noise performances are very important, as they decide the
merits of the signals being transferred. Recently, with the improvement of CMOS processessmaller devices, more stable
process parametersmore and more analog circuits are made
in CMOS processes. When used at low frequencies, the most
important performance of a CMOS transistor is 1/f noise. Because MOS transistors have very high input impedance, they
are usually used as an electrometer or a radiation detector. In
order to improve the sensing ability of such instruments, the
MOS transistors should have ultra low 1/f noise. As we know,
the 1/f noise of MOS transistors arises from the fluctuation
of the carrier number in the channel, which is caused by the
variation of the trapped charges. The fluctuation of the carrier
number in the current channel induces the fluctuation of the
current that passes through the channel, which expresses itself
as 1/f noise. As we know, new trapped charges will be created in SiO2 layers in a radiation environment. Studies need to
be conducted to find out whether the new trapped charges will
increase the 1/f noise power. For the 1/f noise of MOS transistors, other countries have studied the total dose effects8 10
of deep submicron MOS transistors; but in the mainland China,
only the total dose effects of MOS transistors in big size processes have been studied.
For deep submicron CMOS process, the gate SiO2 layer is
thinner than 4 nm. The trapped positive charges will be neutralized by the electrons from the gate electrode or from the Si/
SiO2 interface, which is a different case from a big size process,
where the radiation can damage the gate SiO2 layer directly. So
it is necessary to study the radiation effects on deep submicron

2. Experiment
In our experiments, the noise-measuring instrument is an
Agilent 1/f noise measurement system and a Keithley 4200
semiconductor measurement system is also used to measure
device parameters. The research objects are NMOS and PMOS
transistors with different sizes from the same 0.18 m CMOS
process. Table 1 shows information about the research objects.
In total dose radiation experiments, the NMOS transistors
are biased as: VG D 1.8 V, VD D VS D VB D 0 V, where VG ,
VD , VS and VB are the voltages at the gate, drain, source and
substrate, respectively. The PMOS transistors are biased as: VG
D 0 V, VD D VS D VB D 1.8 V. The radiation rate and total dose
are 125.76 rad/s and 750 krad, respectively.

3. Experimental results
Before measuring the 1/f noise of CMOS transistors, the
DC characters must first be decided, which will be used for calculating the parameters needed for measuring the 1/f noise.
Figure 1 shows the transfer curves of NMOS transistors with
different width to length ratios before and after total dose radiation, where ID and VG mean the drain current and gate voltage,
respectively. From Fig. 1, we realize that the leakage currents
of both NMOS transistors increase a lot after radiation.

Table 1. Information about the research objects.


Experimental Gate structure W=L
Thickness of the
sample
gate SiO2 (nm)
NMOS
Standard strip 20/1.2,
4
20/0.18
PMOS
Standard strip 20/1.2,
4
20/0.18

* Project supported by the National Key Laboratory Foundations (No. 9140C090402110C0906).


Corresponding author. Email: hujiafu2000@126.com
Received 7 July 2013, revised manuscript received 23 August 2013

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J. Semicond. 2014, 35(2)

Hu Rongbin et al.

Fig. 1. ID VG curves of NMOS transistor before and after radiation.

Fig. 2. ID VG curves of PMOS transistors before and after radiation.

Fig. 3. IG VG curves of NMOS transistors before and after radiation.

Figure 2 shows the transfer curves of PMOS transistors


with different width to length ratios before and after radiation.
From Fig. 2, we recognize that the transfer curves after radiation are almost the same as that before radiation for both size
transistors. The PMOS transistor seems more resistant to radiation.
Figure 3 shows the input characteristic curves of NMOS
transistors with different widthlength ratios before and after

radiation, where IG means the gate current. From Fig. 3, after


radiation, the gate currents of the NMOS transistors increased
by two orders of magnitude, which means NMOS transistors
are very susceptible to radiation damage.
Figure 4 shows the input characteristic curves of PMOS
transistors with different widthlength ratios before and after
radiation. From Fig. 4, the input characteristic curves after total dose radiation are almost the same as that before radiation,

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Hu Rongbin et al.

Fig. 4. ID VG curves of PMOS transistors before and after radiation.

Fig. 5. 1/f noise of an NMOS with W =L D 20/1.2 before and after


radiation.

Fig. 6. 1/f noise of NMOS with W=L D 20/0.18 before and after
radiation.

which again proves that PMOS transistors are more resistant to


radiation damage.
Figure 5 shows the 1/f noise power curves of an NMOS
transistor with a width to length ratio of 20/1.2 before and after
radiation. When measured, the NMOS transistor is biased as:
ID D 0.03 mA, VD D 1.5 V. From Fig. 5, when the radiation
total dose achieves 750 krad, the noise power at 10 Hz increases
from 133 to 120 dBV2 /Hz, almost sixteen times increment.
Figure 6 shows the 1/f noise power curves of an NMOS
transistor with a width to length ratio of 20/0.18 before and after radiation. When measured, the NMOS transistor is biased
at the same condition as the previous one. From Fig. 6, when
the radiation total dose achieves 750 krad, the noise power at
10 Hz increases from 97 to 85 dBV2 /Hz, almost sixteen
times increment. From Figs. 5 and 6, we realize that in spite
of the width to length ratio, the 1/f noise increases a lot after
radiation and the phenomena are more obvious at lower frequency. That is because at lower frequency, the 1/f noise is
the most important of all noise sources of MOS transistors. As
the working frequency shifts from low to high sections, the 1/f

noise will gradually be buried by heat noise.


Figures 7 and 8 are the 1/f noise power curves of a PMOS
transistor with different width to length ratios before and after
radiation. Similar to the experimental results in the previous
partsthe 1/f noise of a PMOS transistor seems immune to
radiation damagethe 1/f noise power after radiation is almost the same as that before radiation.

4. Discussion
We summarize the experimental phenomena observed in
the total dose experiments of CMOS transistors as follows: the
total dose radiation will cause the drain current of a NMOS
transistor to be magnified, resulting in the increment of 1/f
noise; PMOS transistors are more resistant to total dose radiation damage.
As we know, the 1/f noise arises from the variation of
the number of the carriers in the channel of a MOS transistor, which results in the fluctuation of the channel current and
expresses itself as 1/f noise. The drain current noise can be

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Hu Rongbin et al.

Fig. 9. The parasitic transistors.

Fig. 7. 1/f noise of PMOS with W =L D 20/1.2 before and after radiation.

between 1/f and white noise, the 1/f noise can be easily separated from the white noise in the measured curves. The total
dose has little effect on the white noise, so it can be ignored.
Consequently, the measured increment of the total noise below
100 kHz mainly comes from the 1/f noise. The noise power
after radiation can be expressed as follows:
2
2
2
Seipost
D Swipost
C S1=f;
ipost ;

Fig. 8. 1/f noise of PMOS with W =L D 20/0.18 before and after


radiation.

expressed as11 :
2 2
Sid2 .f / D SW
gm C

Af 2
g :
f af m

(1)

Besides, the noise can be expressed in terms of gate voltage


as follows:
Se2 .f / D

Sid2 .f /
Af
2
D SW
C af ;
2
gm
f

(2)

2
where SW
is the power of the white noise, gm is the transconductance of the transistor, Af is a constant inversely proportional to the gate area of the main transistor, and is another
constant with a value of about one.
In the experiments, we measured noises at frequencies
from DC to 100 kHz. According to the inherent differences

(3)

2
2
where Swipost
and S1=f;
are the white noise and 1/f nose
ipost
after radiation, respectively.
A deep submicron MOS transistor can be considered as
three transistors in parallel, a main transistor and two parasitic
transistors, as shown in Fig. 9. Before radiation, the threshold
voltage of the parasitic transistors is so large that the voltage
forced on the gate cannot turn on the parasitic transistors. As a
result, the parasitic transistors have an effect on the 1/f noise
of the MOS transistor. In the radiation environment, the total
dose will cause a lot of positive trapped charges in the STI layers, which will deplete or even inverse the p-type substrate under the STI layers, resulting in the threshold voltage reducing of
the parasitic transistors. As the threshold voltages of the parasitic transistors are reduced, the 1/f noise of the MOS transistor will increase. The NMOS transistors are built on p-type substrate, so after radiation we observed that 1/f noise increases
obviously.
Figure 10 shows the transfer curves of NMOS transistors
with different width-to-length ratios before and after radiation.
From Fig. 10, we find that the leakage currents are almost unchanged. This is because a gate using this kind of NMOS transistors forms a loop and the leakage channel cannot be created.
The 1/f noise after radiation can be expressed as12 :

2
S1=f;post

Kf;main;post 2
2Kf;pat
gm;main;post C
g2
W LCox
Wpat Lpat Cox;pat m;main;post
D
2
gm;main;post C 2gm;pat
1
 af ;
f
(4)

where gm;main;post and gm;pat are the transconductances of the


main and parasitic transistors respectively, W and Wpat are the

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Fig. 10. ID VG curves before and after radiation for enclosed-gate NMOS transistors.

Fig. 11. IG VG curves before and after radiation for enclosed-gate NMOS transistors.

gate widths of the main and parasitic transistors respectively,


L and Lpat are the gate lengths of the main and parasitic transistors respectively, Kf;main;post and Kf;pat are the flicker noise
constants for main and parasitic transistors respectively, Cox
is the unit area gate capacitance of the main transistors, and
Cox;pat is the unit area capacitance of the STI above the parasitic transistors.
But for PMOS, it is a different case. Because PMOS transistors are built on an n-type substrate, the positive trapped
charges caused by radiation cannot deplete or inverse the ntype substrate. As a result, after radiation the magnitude of the
threshold voltage of the parasitic transistors will not be reduced
and the 1/f noise will not increase. That is the reason why
PMOS transistors are more resistant to radiation damage than
NMOS.
In summary, the increment of 1/f noise for NMOS transistors is caused by the radiation-induced positive trapped charges
in STI layers, which reduce the threshold voltage of the parasitic transistors and form parasitic current channels, resulting
in the amplification of the leakage current. If the leakage current can be constrained, the augmentation of the 1/f noise can
be minimized. In order to prove our conclusion, we designed
many enclosed-gate NMOS transistors and the radiation experimental results are shown below.
Shown in Fig. 11 are the curves of gate current versus gate

Fig. 12. 1/f noise powers before and after radiation for an NMOS
with W=L D 20/1.2.

voltage of NMOS transistors with different width-to-length ratios. Similar to the case shown in Fig. 3, the gate currents in-

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Hu Rongbin et al.
more resistant to radiation damage, which is observed in our
experiments.

Acknowledgement
The authors wish to thank the fellows of Analog Integrated Circuit Laboratory on Science and Technology for their
help and attention to the work. The authors also want to thank
the fellows at the Xinjiang Technical Institute of Physics and
Chemistry, who made the 60 Co -rays available for all these
experiments.

References

Fig. 13. 1/f noise powers before and after radiation for an NMOS
with W=L D 20/0.18.

crease after radiation. As we know, the gate current has little


effect on 1/f noise.
Shown in Figs. 12 and 13 are curves of 1/f noise power
versus frequency of NMOS transistors with different widthlength ratios before and after radiation. Similar to the case for
transfer curves, the 1/f noise powers after radiation are almost
the same as that before radiation, which proves our conclusion.
In summary, it is the STI layers that capture trapped positive
charges and form leakage currents, which cause the 1/f noise
for NMOS transistors to increase after radiation.

5. Conclusion
From the experimental results and theoretic analysis of the
total dose effect on the 1/f noise of deep submicron CMOS
transistors, the authors conclude that the 1/f noise of a NMOS
transistor increases after radiation, because a lot of positive
charges are trapped in the STI isolation layers, which reduce
the threshold voltage of the parasitic transistors and form leakage current channels. Because a PMOS transistor is built on
n-type substrate and the trapped positive charges cannot deplete or inverse the n-type semiconductor, a current leakage
channel will not form. As a result, the PMOS transistors are

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