TEM Specimen Prepared from a 66 nm SDRAM Sample

Dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) is one of the basic units used in most electronic devices including laptops, smart phones, personal computers, etc.. The crucial elements of such devices are capacitors and transistors. The FET transistor creates an access (based on gate contact signal) to the capacitor unit which is charged and the bit information is stored. The charge on the capacitor drains slowly, so, the information needs to be refreshed periodically, hence, this memory is called dynamic.

FIB-preparation of thin TEM specimens from semiconductor devices is an essential step in the physical failure analysis workflow that is implemented daily in semiconductor fabs. The lamellae need to be thinned to electron- transparency, with thicknesses that are compatible with the critical dimensions of the device to be analyzed. Thus, nanosized structures such as transistors can be clearly resolved in the TEM. Minimal amorphous lateral damage on the prepared lamella is also a crucial requirement for TEM imaging. Although low-kV FIB polishing is an effective technique for minimizing amorphous layers, it can introduce the risk of unwanted ion implantation which can limit or interfere with TEM analysis.

Overview STEM-BF image of a final lamella prepared from a SDRAM sample and polished to a final thickness of 80 nm.

Figure 1. Overview STEM-BF image of a final lamella prepared from a SDRAM sample and polished to a final thickness of 80 nm.

Xe plasma source FIB is an alternative for high quality sample preparation that offers important advantages over conventional Ga ion source FIBs. Such advantages include less ion implantation and less induced amorphous damage at 30 keV when compared with that induced by Ga source FIBs. In addition, Xe is an inert gas which prevents the formation of metallic compounds, a feature that is especially valuable when it is crucial for analysis that the physical properties of the sample are unchanged locally as a result of the FIB milling.

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Founded in 1991 by a group of managers and engineers from Tesla with its electron microscopy history starting in the 1950’s, today TESCAN is a globally renowned supplier of Focused Ion Beam workstations, Scanning Electron Microscopes and Optical Microscopes.  TESCAN’s innovative solutions and collaborative nature with its customers have won it a leading position in the world of nano- and microtechnology.  The company is proud to participate in premier research projects with prominent institutions across a range of scientific fields.  TESCAN provides its clients with leading-class products in terms of value, quality and reliability.  TESCAN USA Inc. is the North American arm of TESCAN ORSAY HOLDINGS, a multinational company established by the merger of Czech company TESCAN, a leading global supplier of SEMs and Focused Ion Beam workstations, and the French company ORSAY PHYSICS, a world leader in customized Focused Ion Beam and Electron Beam technology.

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This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by TESCAN.

For more information on this source, please visit Tescan.com.


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