Technology Lecture: Failure Analysis of Semiconductor Devices

Date: 12 Sep 2007 - 12 Sep 2007

Venue: Training Room 1, Level 3, SIMTech Tower Block


The acronym FA is mostly attributed to failure analysis, however, it is more crucial for functionality analysis of operating devices. Failure analysis is carried out at defect sites and very often at non-operating devices, whereas functionality analysis is performed for operating devices in order to obtain a correct understanding of the local device operation, mainly aiming towards an improvement of the design lay-out. Both tasks have to be carried out with similar techniques mainly involving different kinds of micro and nano characterisation based on the principle of scanning microscopy. This technique is superior to FA compared to usual microscopy, as it allows detailed determination of local devices properties for each single pixel. Although any arbitrary probe for the analysis may be used, such as ion beams, most important methods are based on sample excitation by focused electron beams and on different modes of scanning force microscopy. FA of semiconductor devices does not only include electrical testing, like the determination of local fields, currents, and voltages, but also to determine local changes of mechanical and thermal features, and measure optical properties like the optical properties of light emitting devices or the functionality testing of microprocessors via scanning photon emission microscopy.

Examples are not only given for silicon based devices, but also for II-V-compounds and for organic semiconductors. Apart from the main stream IC technology, discrete devices like high power transistors will be discussed.

Finally, important attention is given to the fact that today’s integrated devices have been shrinking down to the 50nm regime or even below. This is a nightmare for all presently known FA testing procedures. As such, new approaches will have to be observed to cope with the situation that practically all conventional procedures start to fail. One possible way of overcoming this new situation is the intensive use of so-called near-field microscopies, which will be explained in detail.

About the Speaker

Prof L J Balk is a full Professor, Professorship for Electronics, Faculty of Electrical, Information and Media Engineering and Executive Director of the Institute of Polymer Technology from Wuppertal University of Germany. He received his Diplomphysiker (Physicist) and Doctorial degrees in 1971 and 1976 respectively, both at Technical University of Aachen, Germany. Prof Balk is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, while holding visiting and adjunct professorship in various universities including NUS, Singapore. His research interests are in the areas of development and optimisation of scanning probe and electron microscopical techniques, reliability and circuit diagnostics of electronic devices, applications range from pure electronic materials and devices to inorganics like functional ceramics, organic materials and devices and biological materials such as human tissue, nanolithography. In these areas, Prof Balk has published 230 publications and conference presentations, out of which 51 invited or keynote papers, 112 invited seminar talks in industry and academy and 7 international patents.

Who Should Attend  

Failure analysis (FA) engineers, production managers, designers and researchers in the areas of modelling and design of semiconductor devices, VLSI, optical microscopy design, manufacturing, material characterisation and bio-imaging.


Pre-registration for the lecture is required. Admission is free. All are welcome. Seats are available on a first-come-first-served basis.