/ESD Protections in RF IIIV Technologies

ESD Protections in RF IIIV Technologies

PhD - Leuven | More than two weeks ago

The effective solutions not only relied on sophisticated co-design skills, but also on the reliable ESD protection strategies.

In the 5G and beyond 5G mobile applications, front-end modules (FEMs) with CMOS-compatible III-V technologies have been proposed as the essential components for operating at mm-wave frequencies and meeting the requests of cost and energy efficient [1]. Critical processes of the related co-integration between CMOS and III-V technologies have been also developed and demonstrated [1]. However, relevant reliability investigations in these III-V FEMs are still very limited, especially for electrostatic discharge (ESD) reliability. Few prior arts have indicated that III-V devices are relatively sensitive to ESD events [2] and can be severely destroyed without an effective ESD protection strategy. Traditional ESD protection strategies might induce significant performance degradation on FEMs. Therefore, in-depth understanding of ESD characteristics of III-V devices will be the cornerstone for optimizing the corresponding ESD protection strategies.  

Our previous works have presented that the regular 50-Ohm impedance in the TLP system might not be suitable for the GaN devices with a breakdown voltage of few-hundred voltages [3]. Moreover, the detailed transient characteristics cannot be obtained from the general TLP IV results. The transient characteristics can bring more information, such as device turn-on mechanism and the corresponding discharging path under a real ESD event. Appropriate characterization methods are a curial part for the complete insight into the ESD challenges of III-V devices.

In addition, ESD protections in Si RF FEMs and high-speed I/O interfaces have been considered as one of the most challenging ESD topics [4] in past decade. The effective solutions not only relied on sophisticated co-design skills [5], but also on the reliable ESD protection devices. Finding reliable III-V devices can be one of the main tasks of ESD protection strategies. Even more, with the co-integration between CMOS and III-V technologies, the heterogeneous ESD protection strategy is feasible and might be a more effective solution to the FEMs in the 5G and beyond 5G mobile applications.

In this doctoral program, the fundamental ESD transient characteristics of the III-V devices will be thoroughly investigated with the proper characterization methods. Furthermore, the corresponding ESD protection options in the state-of-the-art co-integrated CMOS and III-V technologies will be evaluated and analyzed with different aspects of device characterizations, device/circuit modelling and simulations. Eventually, the decent ESD protection strategies can be proposed towards the more reliable RF FEMs for 5G mobile handset applications and even beyond.  

Ref: [1] https://www.imec-int.com/en/imec-magazine/imec-reading-room-january-2020/heterogeneous-iii-v-cmos-technologies-for-beyond-5g-rf-front-end-modules. [2] B. Shankar and et al., IEEE T-ED, vol. 66, no. 9, 2019. [3] S.-H. Chen and et al., IEEE T-DMR, vol. 12, no. 4, 2012. [4] D. Linten and et al., EOS/ESD Symposium, 2009. [5] J. Borremans and et al., IEEE JSSC, vol. 44, no.2, 2009.

Required background: EE (III-V devices, ESD protections or RF circuit/system designs), Materials Science (III-V devices Physics) or Physics (III-V devices Physics).

Type of work: DC/RF Electrical and ESD Characterizations (40%), TCAD/Circuit simulations and modeling (30%), Analysis of Data and Results (20%), literature study (10%),

Supervisor: Patrick Reynaert

Daily advisor: Shih-Hung Chen

The reference code for this position is 2024-009. Mention this reference code on your application form.

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