At IEDM 2010, imec and
its partners presented a study of the stress-induced impact of through-silicon
via (TSV) processing on the performance of high-k/metal-gate CMOS transistors
and circuits. This study is a first of its kind; the results and the approach
that was followed are a foundation for stress-aware design with dedicated design
rules. This will allow to precisely delineate keep-out zones (KOZ), and thus
to save valuable silicon area.
In 3D stacking, one of the concerns is the potential impact of TSVs and TSV
processing on the integrity of the transistors and circuits. This impact will
depend on the mechanical stress in the final stack, but also on the stresses
that the silicon undergoes during TSV processing. Most challenging is the heating
during TSV processing, which will cause a mechanical stress in the silicon surrounding
the TSVs because of the mismatch in thermal expansion coefficient between the
Cu TSV and the silicon.
(Left) Simulated test structure reproducing measurements on a transistor array. (Right) Stress distribution around the TSV matrix showing that in certain regions the stress can be amplified or cancelled out.
This stress negatively affects the carrier mobility and the performance of
the transistors located near to the TSVs. To mitigate these negative effects,
and using standard design rules, large layout areas will have to be sacrificed.
The alternative is to use dedicated design rules, which take into account the
exact stress locations. In this study, the mechanical stress and its impact
are examined in detail, for a variety of TSV placement patterns and transistor
sizes, with the aim to have a foundation to derive robust, dedicated design
rules that can save valuable silicon area.
The method used is a combination of theoretical modeling and experimental measurements.
For the modeling, a finite element model (FEM) was set up based on, a.o. measured
TSV Cu properties and process temperature profiles. For the experimental measurements,
test structures with various TSV alignments were processed on imec’s 300mm
3D-SIC via-first baseline process. Both analog test structures (consisting of
12-bit DAC circuits) and digital test structures (using 40nm FETs) were used.
The results obtained through modeling closely matched those from the experimental
The results of the study show, both for the analog and digital test structures,
and for various TSV layouts, the dimensions of the KOZ. For a digital FET, the
KOZ will grow from 6µm to 20µm with a growing number of TSVs in
the array. In general, the results show that short-channel transistors such
as 40nm MOSFETs will exhibit an Idsat variation around 9% nearby TSVs. The resulting
KOZ for a matrix of TSVs will measure 200µm for analog circuits and 20µm
for digital circuits. The study shows that there is a complex interaction of
stresses. The dedicated design rules that can be derived will precisely delineate
the keep-out-zones, saving valuable silicon area.