Applications

Failure Analysis of Integrated Circuits

The semiconductor industry continues to shrink the size of electronic devices. A failure analysis process of such integrated circuits typically involves delayering and electrical nanoprobing. At TESCAN, we have developed a complex solution for the failure analysis labs. For the purpose of delayering, we recommend to use a Xe plasma FIB equipped with immersion optics SEM (XEIA3). With our special technique of GIS-assisted Xe plasma FIB etching, we can obtain uniform damage-free delayering. The TEM lamella preparation task is recommended to be carried out by means of Ga FIB-SEM (GAIA3). In the case of ultrathin lamella preparation, the process of final cleaning with low energy ions becomes a crucial step.

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Advanced Packaging: Ball Grid Array

Ball grid array (BGA) is a surface-mount packaging technology consisting of an array of solder balls on the underside of a chip package. BGA has been developed in response to the trend in the semiconductor industry towards the miniaturisation of ICs, and in pursuit of higher integration, higher density, and improved functionality. TESCAN systems offer a wide range of possibilities for inspection and failure analysis of BGA packaging. The TESCAN BSE detector provides high contrast which makes intermetallic compounds and under-bump metallurgy layers clearly visible. TESCAN Plasma FIB-SEM systems (FERA3, XEIA3) allow solder balls, which can have diameters of up to hundreds of microns, to be effortlessly and seamlessly cross-sectioned in an unrivalled short time frame. Fast 3D microanalysis (3D EDX, 3D EBSD) of whole solder balls is possible with the ultra-high sputtering rates that only the Xe plasma FIB can offer.

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Advanced Packaging: Through Silicon Vias

Through-silicon vias (TSVs) is an advanced 3D interconnect technology and a crucial component to make 3D integration packaging possible. TESCAN can provide the semiconductor and packaging industries with a diverse range of systems and detectors to implement analytical techniques to study stress levels and Cu extrusion in TSVs. Our range of high performance SEMs (MIRA3, MAIA3) allows for high resolution imaging of TSVs. TESCAN Xe plasma FIB-SEM systems (FERA3 and XEIA3) offer the essential power and speed for performing high-throughput analysis in TSVs. Such dual beam systems allow for pinpointing failure sites and a subsequent local inspection and characterisation of these failure sites with a single instrument. EDX and EBSD mapping analyses of TSVs can also be implemented.

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Advanced Packaging: Wire Bonding

Using ultra-fine bonding wires continue to be the most widely used method for creating interconnection in high-density multi-chip modules in the microelectronic and semiconductor industry. SEM techniques allow for performing different tests on bonding wires. TESCAN’s patented aperture-free Wide Field Optics allows for the imaging of extra-large objects such as a whole chip package with exposed wire bonds at low magnification without distortions. MIRA3 enables metallurgical studies of bond wires. TESCAN LYRA3 and GAIA3 feature Ga ion source FIB columns to perform site-specific milling with excellent resolution while FERA3 and XEIA3, equipped with Xe plasma ion FIB column are the choices for challenging large-scale cross-sectioning in short times. The TESCAN tensile stage and a nano-indentor can be used to perform in-situ stress tests in wires and wire bond quality.

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Circuit Edit

Circuit edit (CE) is a common technique used in the design-debug phase of integrated circuits. Most CE activities are performed by means of FIB systems equipped with a Gas Injection System (GIS). Such systems allow site-specific and precise material etching as well as the deposition of conductive contacts or insulation. Any TESCAN FIB-SEM system can be equipped with a GIS for enhanced and optimise a wide range of FIB applications including circuit edit. Two options for GIS configuration are available: a 5-nozzle motorised GIS or multiple MonoGIS units. In either option the following precursors are available: Tungsten for metal deposition, SiOx for insulator deposition, H2O for enhanced etching Cu and XeF2 for selective etching of Si, SiOx, and Si3N4. TESCAN LYRA and GAIA FIB-SEM systems are equipped with the DrawBeam lithography module, dedicated, user-friendly and effective software for precise etching, deposition and end-point detection required for advanced circuit editing applications.

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Displays

The development of displays has progressed rapidly in recent years, and this has resulted in high quality displays which deliver sharp and bright images, wide viewing angles, vivid colours, all in a touch-sensitive layer. TESCAN offers a series of instruments well-suited for the display industry. Displays are delicate structures which can be easily damaged by an electron beam. The TESCAN MAIA3 FEG-SEM provides superb resolution even at low beam energies, ideal for damage-free imaging and resolving the beam-sensitive small structures in displays without the need of using protective coatings. GAIA3 is ideally suited to perform small area cross-sectioning of a couple of tens of microns wide in TFT. The XEIA3 system – a Xe plasma ion source FIB – is the solution for preparing large-scale cross-sections in TFT displays, and for the characterisation of defects.

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Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems

Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) are miniaturised mechanical and electro-mechanical elements which are commonly made of Si substrate and fabricated by means of photolithography and chemical etching. The critical physical dimensions of MEMS devices can vary from well below one micron, on the lower end, to several millimetres. SEM is an ideal technique by which we can inspect and localise failures and their root causes in MEMS. High resolution and large depth of focus are capabilities that make TESCAN SEMs excellent instruments to observe samples with complex topography such as MEMS. GAIA3 and XEIA3, both FIB-SEM platforms which combine an ultra-high resolution electron column with a Ga ion source and Xe plasma ion source FIB columns respectively, can be used in combination with the AutoSlicer module to disassemble MEMS by automatically cutting multiple windows on the lid of such devices, allowing a subsequent high magnification inspection.

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Batteries

There is relentless research in the battery industry which aims at developing the future energy storage systems, a task which continues to be one of the crucial technological challenges. This requires analytical techniques capable of differentiating chemical states with high sensitivity and high spatial resolution. To this end, TESCAN offers a unique FIB-SEM time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometer (TOF-SIMS) integration which allows technologists and scientists working in the battery industry to perform high resolution surface analyses such as depth profiling and elemental distribution maps to shed light on SEI in Li-ion batteries. Additionally, LYRA3 or FERA3 can be used to implement FIB-tomography to reconstruct the evolution of the 3D structure of Li-ion battery electrodes during extended cycling.

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Focus Ion Beam Scanning Electron Microscopy

The TESCAN FIB-SEM systems portfolio comprises LYRA3 and GAIA3 both Ga ion source FIB for high precision milling tasks, as well as FERA3 and XEIA3, the Xe plasma FIB options for large-scale milling applications. TESCAN FIB-SEMs feature state-of-the-art ion columns with excellent performance. On the one hand, the Cobra column is a Ga ion source FIB column, and the sharpest instrument for nanomachining capable of achieving a resolution of 2.5 nm. On the other, the i-FIB column is a powerful ECR-generated Xe plasma ion source capable of high ion beam currents up to 2 μA for challenging large-scale milling applications. LYRA3 and GAIA3 allow for the preparation of ultra-thin lamella of less than 20 nm thick. FERA3 and XEIA3 are ideal for the preparation of high quality thin lamellae with reduced ion implantation and thinner amorphous layers. LYRA3 and GAIA3 allow for performing tomography with a voxel of just a few cubic nanometres for maximum resolution while FERA3 and XEIA3 are the ideal choices for a large-scale 3D microanalysis.

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Lithography Solutions for FIB-SEM Applications

Electron/ion beam lithography is generally a nano-patterning technique widely used in different applications in the semiconductor and microelectronics industry. TESCAN offers DrawBeam, a powerful digital pattern generator which is indispensable in all lithographic applications of interest in the semiconductor industry such as the deposition of protective masks for the purposes of cross-sectioning and lamellae preparation. The DrawBeam module also contains a function for accurate endpoint detection and enabled live imaging for those challenging milling tasks which require ultimate precision such as advanced circuit edit. AutoSlicer is another special software module for TESCAN FIB-SEM systems which helps perform sequential cross-sectioning or lamella preparation on multiple sites, and, overnight setting and unattended operations.

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FIB-SEM Tomography

FIB-SEM tomography is a three-dimensional analytical technique which is obtained by alternating the use of the electron and ion beam sequentially for serial sectioning and imaging at high resolution. The 3D reconstructions can be achieved with practically any available detector on a TESCAN FIB-SEM system. Thus, an In-Beam BSE detector can be used for instance, to obtain 3D reconstructions with high contrast of localised small volumes of transistor layers (with LYRA3, GAIA3) or whole solder balls or Cu pillars (with FERA3 and XEIA3). 3D chemical maps of wire bonds can be obtained with the use of an EDX detector while full crystallographic information of TSVs in 3D is acquired by means of an EBSD detector. FERA3 and XEIA3 both xenon plasma ion source FIBs allow the milling of very large volumes that can be of the order of 106 μm3 and as a result large-scale 3D reconstructions are now a reality. For small volume applications (<104 μm3) which require a high resolution FIB, the gallium ion source (LYRA3 and GAIA3) continues to be the best option for the highest quality.

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Rocking Stage for Curtaining-Free Polishing

For successful failure analysis, the semiconductor industry relies on high quality surfaces on cross-sections and lamellae. The surface of the cross-sections or that of lamellae need to be smooth and artefact-free, otherwise, the task of finding or identifying possible failures is very difficult as they can easily hide among surface defects. The TESCAN Rocking Stage, a stage which allows multi-directional milling by tilting the sample during FIB milling. Such a technique has proven not only to be effective in eliminating curtaining but also in optimising cross-sectioning tasks and lamellae final polishing. Furthermore, the Rocking Stage allows a simultaneous SEM imaging during FIB milling, hence, the quality of the surface can be monitored at all times without the need to interrupt the milling process.

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Flood Gun for Charge Neutralisation

There are a wide variety of insulating materials used in the semiconductor industry; glass, fibreglass and epoxy, are just a few examples of common insulators used in integrated circuits and printed circuit boards. FIB tasks, for the purposes of failure analysis such as cross-sectioning, commonly involve milling through insulating materials. In non-conductive specimens, the ion beam creates a build-up of positive charge on the sample surface during milling. The TESCAN Flood Gun is an ideal tool for effective charge neutralisation for highly insulating materials during FIB imaging and machining. The Flood Gun has proven to provide charge compensation at high beam current of 2 μA achieved by the TESCAN Xe plasma FIBs (FERA3 and XEIA3).

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Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy

Scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) combines the principles of Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) with that of SEM. TEM samples are prepared as very thin slices (lamellae) no thicker than 100 nm. The High Angle Dark Field Retractable STEM Detector (HADF R-STEM) makes it possible for every TESCAN SEM and FIB-SEM system to be turned into a (low energy) STEM platform. The HADF R-STEM detector enhances the SEM analysis (SE, BSE, EDX, EBSD) that can be performed on thin-sliced samples by adding the unique information that only transmitted electrons can provide. A TESCAN FIB-SEM system equipped with the HADF R-STEM detector enables the preparation and in-situ analysis of lamellae in a single instrument. This detector represents a concrete and efficient solution for those research facilities with no TEM facilities and yet with the same requirements for sample analysis.

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Electron Beam Induced Current

Electron Beam Induced Current (EBIC) is a SEM-based mapping and non-destructive fault isolation technique widely used for the examination of specific parts in integrated circuits and the precise localisation of defects in semiconductors. All TESCAN FIB-SEM systems can be equipped with an EBIC detector for failure analysis in semiconductor junctions. This detector enables measurement in two ranges of bias and three ranges of current measurement. The probing is performed by integrated nanomanipulators and, the signal from an EBIC detector can be used for fast signal mapping or locally measured in the SEM scanning window. Overlaying EBIC mapping on SEM images is also possible. The EBIC technique can also be combined with FIB tomography resulting in a 3D map of EBIC activity.

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Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry

Time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS) is a highly sensitive analytical technique that provides chemical characterisation of the surfaces of materials. TOF-SIMS can achieve better lateral and depth resolution compared to other common chemical analytical SEM techniques such as EDX. TOF-SIMS provides a characterisation of the surface of materials by means of mass spectra, depth profiles and elemental/molecular maps. Mass spectra allow the identification and quantification of elements, present in the surface layers of the sample as well as the distinction of isotopes and species with similar nominal mass. Depth profiling is used to detect trace elements of dopants and other impurities at different depth ranges. Light elements such as Be, B and Li can be detected in very low concentrations of few ppm. TOF-SIMS has proven to be a powerful analytical technique for the battery manufacturing industry.

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Large wafer inspection

The fabrication of MEMS elements or integrated circuits on large-diameter wafers is a routine process in fabs and the semiconductor and microelectronic industries. As a part of the manufacturing process, some of the localised features of such manufactured structures need to be inspected by means of SEM and FIB-SEM techniques. For this purpose, TESCAN has designed a dedicated cradle stage with a holder which enables the loading of 6’’, 8’’ and 12’’ wafers. All TESCAN SEM and FIB-SEM systems can be equipped with the cradle stage by means of an extended GM chamber. The cradle stage allows FIB cross-sectioning and SEM imaging to be performed at any position of 6’’ and 8’’ wafers at 0° and 55° tilt. Full SEM-inspection of 12’’ wafers can be performed at 0°. For extra-large sample inspection, TESCAN offers a unique high resolution SEM system equipped with the AMU chamber - an extraordinarily large chamber - which supports samples with a diameter of up to 762 mm.

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