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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effects of stress on gallium arsenide device characteristics Peng, Harry W.


For VLSI applications, it is essential to have consistent device characteristics for devices fabricated on different fabrication runs, on different wafers, and especially across a single wafer. MESFETs fabricated on GaAs have been found to have an orientation dependence in their threshold voltage and other characteristics. For MESFETs with gate length less than 2 μm, changing the device orientation can so significantly alter the device characteristics that it must be considered during the transistor design stage. The causes for the orientation dependence in the device characteristics have been suggested to be the piezoelectric property of GaAs and stress in the substrate. Stress produced by the encapsulating dielectric film generates a polarization charge density in the substrate. If the magnitude of the polarization charge density is large enough to alter the channel doping profile, then the device characteristics are changed. In this thesis, the effects of stress on GaAs MESFET device characteristics were studied by modelling and experimental works. In the modelling part, polarization charge densities under the gate of an encapsulated MESFET were calculated by using the so called distributed force model and the edge concentrated model. The distributed force model is a much better model because it describes more realistically the stress distribution in the film and in the substrate. It should provide a much more accurate calculation of the induced polarization charge density. The results show that the polarizarition charge densities calculated by the two models have similar distribution pattern, but the magnitudes are very different. With an identical set of conditions, a much larger polarization charge density is predicted by the edge concentrated model. In addition, the distributed force model distinguishes different films by a "hardness" value, based on their elastic property, whereas the edge concentrated model does not. A film with a larger "hardness" value is predicted to generate a larger polarization charge density. Two types of film were considered, SiO₂ and Si₃N₄. Using bulk film characteristics, the calculations showed that Si0₂ film is "harder" than Si₃N₄ film. If an equal built-in stress value is assumed, then a larger polarization charge density is predicted for Si0₂ than for Si₃N₄ encapsulated substrates. In the experimental part, stress was applied to test devices by bending strips of GaAs wafers in a cantilever configuration. MESFETs tested were oriented in the [011] or the [011̅] direction. Both static stress and time-varying stress were applied. In the statics stress experiment, the changes in the barrier height and the C-V profile were measured. It was found that, with equal stress applied, Schottky barriers with a larger ideality factor showed a larger change in the barrier height. In the time-varying stress experiment, attempts were made to measure the effect of the polarization charge density on device characteristics by measuring changes in the drain-source current.

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