CDM Robust & Low Noise ESD protection circuits
Lubana, Sumanjit Singh
MetadataShow full item record
In spite of significant progress during last couple of decades, ESD still affects production yields, manufacturing costs, product quality, product reliability and profitability. The objective of an ESD protection circuit is to create a harmless shunting path for the static electricity before it damages the sensitive electronic circuits. As the devices are scaling down, while ESD energy remains the same, VLSIs are becoming more vulnerable to ESD stress. This higher susceptibility to ESD damage is due to thinner gate oxides and shallower junctions. Furthermore, higher operating frequency of the scaled technologies enforces lower parasitic capacitance of the ESD protection circuits. Hence, increasing the robustness of the ESD protection circuits with minimum additional parasitic capacitance is the main challenge in state of the art CMOS processes. Furthermore with scaling, the integration of analog blocks such as ADC, PLL’s, DLL’s, oscillator etc. on digital chips has provided cheap system on chip (SOC) solutions. However, when analog and digital chip are combined into single mixed-signal chip, on-chip noise coupling from the digital to the analog circuitry through ESD protection circuits becomes a big concern. Thus, increasing supply noise isolation while ensuring the ESD protection robustness is also a big challenge. In this thesis, several ESD protection circuits and devices have been proposed to address the critical issues like increased leakage current, slower turn-on time of devices, increased susceptibility to power supply isolation etc. The proposed ESD protection circuits/devices have been classified into two categories: Pad based ESD protection in which the ESD protection circuits are placed in the I/O pads, and Rail based ESD in which ESD protection circuit is placed between power supplies. In our research, both these aspects have been investigated. The Silicon Controlled Rectifier (SCR) based devices have been used for Pad ESD protection as they have highest ESD protection level per unit area. Two novel devices Darlington based SCR (DSCR) and NMOS Darlington based SCR (NMOS-DSCR) having faster turn-on time, lower first breakdown voltage and low capacitance have been proposed. The transient clamps have been investigated and optimized for Rail based ESD protection. In this research, we have addressed the issue of leakage current in transient clamps. A methodology has been purposed to reduce the leakage current by more than 200,000 times without having major impact on the ESD performance. Also, the issue of noise coupling from digital supply to analog supply through the ESD protection circuits has been addressed. A new transient clamp has been proposed to increase the power supply noise isolation. Finally, a new methodology of placement of analog circuit with respect to transient clamp has been proposed to further increase the power supply noise isolation.