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Durham e-Theses
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Analysis of design strategies for RF ESD problems in CMOS circuits

Pugsley, William (2007) Analysis of design strategies for RF ESD problems in CMOS circuits. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis analyses the design strategies used to protect RF circuits that are implemented in CMOS technologies. It investigates, in detail, the physical mechanisms involved when a ggNMOS structure is exposed to an ESD event and undergoes snapback. The understanding gained is used to understand why the performance of the current RF ESD clamp is poor and suggestions are made as to how the performance of ggNMOS clamps can be improved beyond the current body of knowledge. The ultimate aim is to be able to design effective ESD protection clamps whilst minimising the effect the circuit has on RF I/O signals. A current ggNMOS based RF ESD I/O protection circuit is analysed in detail using a Transmission Line Pulse (TLP) tester. This is shown to be a very effective diagnostic tool by showing many characteristics of the ggNMOS during the triggering and conducting phase of the ESD event and demonstrate deficiencies in the clamp design. The use of a FIB enhances the analysis by allowing the isolation of individual components in the circuit and therefore their analysis using the TLP tester. SPICE simulations are used to provide further commentary on the debate surrounding the specification required of a TLP tester for there to be a good correlation between a TLP test and the industry standard Human Body Model (HBM) ESD test. Finite element simulations are used to probe deeper in to the mechanisms involved when a ggNMOS undergoes snapback especially with regard to the contribution parasitic components within the ggNMOS make to the snapback process. New ggNMOS clamps are proposed which after some modification are shown to work. Some of the finite element experiments are repeated in a 0.18μπ7. process CMOS test chip and a comparison is made between the two sets of results. In the concluding chapter understanding that has been gained from previous chapters is combined with the published body of knowledge to suggest and explain improvements in the design of a ggNMOS for RF and standard applications. These improvements will improve homogeneity of ggNMOS operation thus allowing the device size to be reduced and parasitic loading for a given ESD performance. These techniques can also be used to ensure that the ESD current does not take an unintended path through the chip.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2007
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:33

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