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Publication numberUS20010000948 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/757,066
Publication dateMay 10, 2001
Filing dateJan 8, 2001
Priority dateFeb 9, 1999
Also published asUS6300765, US6304097, US6414498
Publication number09757066, 757066, US 2001/0000948 A1, US 2001/000948 A1, US 20010000948 A1, US 20010000948A1, US 2001000948 A1, US 2001000948A1, US-A1-20010000948, US-A1-2001000948, US2001/0000948A1, US2001/000948A1, US20010000948 A1, US20010000948A1, US2001000948 A1, US2001000948A1
InventorsJames Chen
Original AssigneeBta Technology, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
System, IC chip, on-chip test structure, and corresponding method for modeling one or more target interconnect capacitances
US 20010000948 A1
Abstract
A system, an IC chip, a test structure formed on the IC chip, and a corresponding method for modeling one or more target interconnect capacitances is disclosed. The test structure comprises an interconnect configuration comprising a test interconnect and one or more target interconnects. The interconnect configuration has, for each target interconnect, a corresponding target interconnect capacitance between the test interconnect and the target interconnect. The test structure also comprises a test interconnect charging circuit connected to the test interconnect. The test interconnect charging circuit is configured to place a test charge on the test interconnect. The test structure further comprises one or more target interconnect charging circuits. Each target interconnect charging circuit is connected to a corresponding target interconnect. Each target interconnect charging circuit is configured to draw a target interconnect charging current from the corresponding target interconnect in response to the test charge. This places an opposite charge on the corresponding target interconnect that is induced by the corresponding target interconnect capacitance. As a result, a measurement of the corresponding target interconnect capacitance may be computed by making a measurement of the target interconnect charging current with a current meter of the system.
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Claims(38)
What is claimed is:
1. A test structure formed on an IC chip for modeling a target interconnect capacitance, the test structure comprising:
an interconnect configuration formed on the IC chip and comprising a test interconnect and a target interconnect, the interconnect configuration having the target interconnect capacitance between the test and target interconnects;
a test interconnect charging circuit formed on the IC chip and connected to the test interconnect, the test interconnect charging circuit being configured to place a test charge on the test interconnect; and
a target interconnect charging circuit formed on the IC chip and connected to the target interconnect, the target interconnect charging circuit being configured to draw a target interconnect charging current from the target interconnect in response to the test charge to place an opposite charge on the target interconnect that is induced by the target interconnect capacitance, whereby a measurement of the target interconnect capacitance may be computed from a measurement of the target interconnect charging current.
2. The test structure of
claim 1
wherein the test interconnect charging circuit is further configured to draw a test interconnect charging current to the test interconnect to place the test charge on the test interconnect.
3. The test structure of
claim 2
wherein:
the test structure has reset and measure phases of operation;
the test interconnect charging circuit is further configured to draw a test interconnect discharging current from the test interconnect during the reset phase to remove any pre-existing charge on the test interconnect and draw the test interconnect charging current to the test interconnect during the measure phase; and
the target interconnect charging circuit is further configured to draw a target interconnect discharging current to the target interconnect during the reset phase to remove any pre-existing charge on the target interconnect and draw the target interconnect charging current from the target interconnect during the measure phase.
4. The test structure of
claim 3
wherein:
the test interconnect charging circuit is further configured to be responsive to test interconnect charge and discharging control signals such that:
in the reset phase, the test interconnect discharging current is drawn when the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is not to occur and discharging is to occur;
in the measure phase the test interconnect charging current is drawn when the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is to occur and discharging is not to occur; and
the target interconnect charging circuit is further configured to be responsive to target interconnect charge and discharging control signals such that:
in the reset phase, the target interconnect discharging current is drawn when the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is not to occur and discharging is to occur; and
in the measure phase, the target interconnect charging current is drawn when the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is to occur and discharging is not to occur.
5. The test structure of
claim 4
wherein the target interconnect charging circuit comprises first and second transistors connected to the target interconnect and configured to be respectively responsive to the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals such that:
in the reset phase, the first and second transistors are respectively turned on and off when the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is to occur and discharging is not to occur so as to draw the target interconnect charging current;
in the measure phase, the first and second transistors are respectively turned off and on when the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is not to occur and discharging is to occur so as to draw the target interconnect discharging current.
6. The test structure of
claim 5
wherein the test interconnect charging circuit comprises third and fourth transistors connected to the test interconnect and configured to be respectively responsive to the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals such that:
in the reset phase, the third and fourth transistors are respectively turned on and off when the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is to occur and discharging is not to occur so as to draw the test interconnect charging current; and
in the measure phase, the third and fourth transistors are respectively turned off and on when the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is not to occur and discharging is to occur so as to draw the test interconnect discharging current.
7. The test structure of
claim 4
further comprising a control signal generator formed on the IC chip and configured to generate the test and target interconnect charging and discharging control signals, the control signal generator being connected to the test and target interconnect charging circuits to provide the test and target interconnect charging and discharging control signals thereto.
8. The test structure of
claim 7
wherein the control signal generator comrpises a frequency divider to divide the frequency of a selected control signal of the test and target interconnect charging and discharging control signals by a pre-selected factor to generate a frequency divided signal, whereby the measurement of the target capacitance may further be computed from a measurement of the frequency of the frequency divided signal and the pre-selected factor.
9. A test structure formed on an IC chip for modeling one or more target interconnect capacitances, the test structure comprising:
an interconnect configuration formed on the IC chip and comprising a test interconnect and one or more target interconnects, the interconnect configuration having, for each target interconnect, a corresponding target interconnect capacitance between the test interconnect and the target interconnect;
a test interconnect charging circuit formed on the IC chip and connected to the test interconnect, the test interconnect charging circuit being configured to place a test charge on the test interconnect; and
one or more target interconnect charging circuits, each target interconnect charging circuit being formed on the IC chip and connected to a corresponding target interconnect, each target interconnect charging circuit being configured to draw a target interconnect charging current from the corresponding target interconnect in response to the test charge to place an opposite charge on the corresponding target interconnect that is induced by the corresponding target interconnect capacitance, whereby a measurement of the corresponding target interconnect capacitance may be computed from a measurement of the target interconnect charging current.
10. The test structure of
claim 9
wherein the test interconnect charging circuit is further configured to draw a test interconnect charging current to the test interconnect to place the test charge on the test interconnect.
11. The test structure of
claim 10
wherein:
the test structure has reset and measure phases of operation;
the test interconnect charging circuit is further configured to draw a test interconnect discharging current from the test interconnect during the reset phase to remove any pre-existing charge on the test interconnect and draw the test interconnect charging current to the test interconnect during the measure phase; and
each target interconnect charging circuit is further configured to draw a target interconnect discharging current to the corresponding target interconnect during the reset phase to remove any pre-existing charge on the corresponding target interconnect and draw the target interconnect charging current from the corresponding target interconnect during the measure phase.
12. The test structure of
claim 11
wherein:
the test interconnect charging circuit is further configured to be responsive to test interconnect charge and discharging control signals such that:
in the reset phase, the test interconnect discharging current is drawn when the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is not to occur and discharging is to occur;
in the measure phase the test interconnect charging current is drawn when the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is to occur and discharging is not to occur; and
each target interconnect charging circuit is further configured to be responsive to target interconnect charge and discharging control signals such that:
in the reset phase, the target interconnect discharging current is drawn when the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is not to occur and discharging is to occur; and
in the measure phase, the target interconnect charging current is drawn when the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is to occur and discharging is not to occur.
13. The test structure of
claim 12
wherein each target interconnect charging circuit comprises first and second transistors connected to the corresponding target interconnect and configured to be respectively responsive to the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals such that:
in the reset phase, the first and second transistors are respectively turned on and off when the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is to occur and discharging is not to occur so as to draw the target interconnect charging current;
in the measure phase, the first and second transistors are respectively turned off and on when the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is not to occur and discharging is to occur so as to draw the target interconnect discharging current.
14. The test structure of
claim 13
wherein the test interconnect charging circuit comprises third and fourth transistors connected to the test interconnect and configured to be respectively responsive to the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals such that:
in the reset phase, the third and fourth transistors are respectively turned on and off when the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is to occur and discharging is not to occur so as to draw the test interconnect charging current; and
in the measure phase, the third and fourth transistors are respectively turned off and on when the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is not to occur and discharging is to occur so as to draw the test interconnect discharging current.
15. The test structure of
claim 12
further comprising a control signal generator formed on the IC chip and configured to generate the test and target interconnect charging and discharging control signals, the control signal generator being connected to the test and one or more target interconnect charging circuits to provide the test and target interconnect charging and discharging control signals thereto.
16. The test structure of
claim 15
wherein the control signal generator comrpises a frequency divider to divide the frequency of a selected control signal of the of the test and target interconnect charging and discharging control signals by a pre-selected factor to generate a frequency divided signal, whereby the measurement of the target capacitance may further be computed from a measurement of the frequency of the frequency divided signal and the pre-selected factor.
17. An IC chip comprising a test structure formed on the IC chip for modeling a target interconnect capacitance, the test structure comprising:
an interconnect configuration formed on the IC chip and comprising a test interconnect and a target interconnect, the interconnect configuration having the target interconnect capacitance between the test and target interconnects;
a test interconnect charging circuit formed on the IC chip and connected to the test interconnect, the test interconnect charging circuit being configured to place a test charge on the test interconnect; and
a target interconnect charging circuit formed on the IC chip and connected to the target interconnect, the target interconnect charging circuit being configured to draw a target interconnect charging current from the target interconnect in response to the test charge to place an opposite charge on the target interconnect that is induced by the target interconnect capacitance, whereby a measurement of the target interconnect capacitance may be computed from a measurement of the target interconnect charging current.
18. The IC chip of
claim 17
further comprising an IC formed on the IC chip that includes an interconnect configuration that is the same as the interconnect configuration of the test structure.
19. The IC chip of
claim 17
wherein the test interconnect charging circuit is further configured to draw a test interconnect charging current to the test interconnect to place the test charge on the test interconnect.
20. The IC chip of
claim 19
wherein:
the test structure has reset and measure phases of operation;
the test interconnect charging circuit is further configured to draw a test interconnect discharging current from the test interconnect during the reset phase to remove any pre-existing charge on the test interconnect and draw the test interconnect charging current to the test interconnect during the measure phase; and
the target interconnect charging circuit is further configured to draw a target interconnect discharging current to the target interconnect during the reset phase to remove any pre-existing charge on the target interconnect and draw the target interconnect charging current from the target interconnect during the measure phase.
21. The IC chip of
claim 20
wherein:
the test interconnect charging circuit is further configured to be responsive to test interconnect charge and discharging control signals such that:
in the reset phase, the test interconnect discharging current is drawn when the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is not to occur and discharging is to occur;
in the measure phase the test interconnect charging current is drawn when the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is to occur and discharging is not to occur; and
the target interconnect charging circuit is further configured to be responsive to target interconnect charge and discharging control signals such that:
in the reset phase, the target interconnect discharging current is drawn when the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is not to occur and discharging is to occur; and
in the measure phase, the target interconnect charging current is drawn when the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is to occur and discharging is not to occur.
22. The IC chip of
claim 21
wherein the target interconnect charging circuit comprises first and second transistors connected to the target interconnect and configured to be respectively responsive to the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals such that:
in the reset phase, the first and second transistors are respectively turned on and off when the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is to occur and discharging is not to occur so as to draw the target interconnect charging current;
in the measure phase, the first and second transistors are respectively turned off and on when the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is not to occur and discharging is to occur so as to draw the target interconnect discharging current.
23. The IC chip of
claim 22
wherein the test interconnect charging circuit comprises third and fourth transistors connected to the test interconnect and configured to be respectively responsive to the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals such that:
in the reset phase, the third and fourth transistors are respectively turned on and off when the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is to occur and discharging is not to occur so as to draw the test interconnect charging current; and
in the measure phase, the third and fourth transistors are respectively turned off and on when the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is not to occur and discharging is to occur so as to draw the test interconnect discharging current.
24. The IC chip of
claim 21
further comprising a control signal generator formed on the IC chip and configured to generate the test and target interconnect charging and discharging control signals, the control signal generator being connected to the test and target interconnect charging circuits to provide the test and target interconnect charging and discharging control signals thereto.
25. The IC chip of
claim 24
wherein the control signal generator comrpises a frequency divider to divide the frequency of a selected control signal of the test and target interconnect charging and discharging control signals by a pre-selected factor to generate a frequency divided signal, whereby the measurement of the target capacitance may further be computed from a measurement of the frequency of the frequency divided signal and the pre-selected factor.
26. A method of modeling a target interconnect capacitance with a test structure formed on an IC chip, the test structure comprising an interconnect configuration with a test interconnect and a target interconnect, the target interconnect capacitance existing between the test and target interconnects, the method comprising the steps of:
placing a test charge on the test interconnect;
drawing a target interconnect charging current from the target interconnect in response to the test charge to place an opposite charge on the target interconnect that is induced by the target interconnect capacitance; and
making a measurement of the target interconnect charging current, whereby a measurement of the target interconnect capacitance may be computed from the measurement of the target interconnect charging current.
27. The method of
claim 26
wherein the test charge placing step comprises the step of drawing a test interconnect charging current to the test interconnect to place the test charge on the test interconnect.
28. The method of
claim 27
wherein:
the test structure has reset and measure phases of operation;
the steps of drawing the test and target interconnect charging currents occur during the measure phase;
the method further comprises the steps of:
drawing a test interconnect discharging current from the test interconnect during the reset phase to remove any pre-existing charge on the test interconnect; and
draw a target interconnect discharging current to the target interconnect during the reset phase to remove any pre-existing charge on the target interconnect.
29. The method of
claim 28
further comprising the step of:
generating test interconnect charge and discharging control signals and target interconnect charge and discharging control signals;
the step of drawing the test interconnect discharging current occurring during the reset phase when the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is not to occur and discharging is to occur;
the step of drawing the target interconnect discharging current occurring during the reset phase when the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is not to occur and discharging is to occur;
the step of drawing the test interconnect charging current occurring during the measure phase when the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is to occur and discharging is not to occur;
the step of drawing the target interconnect charging current occurring during the measure phase when the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is to occur and discharging is not to occur.
30. The method of
claim 29
further comprising the steps of:
dividing the frequency of a selected control signal of the test and target interconnect charging and discharging control signals by a pre-selected factor to generate a frequency divided signal; and
making a measurement of the frequency of the frequency divided signal, whereby the measurement of the target capacitance may further be computed from the measurement of the frequency and the pre-selected factor.
31. A system for modeling a target interconnect capacitance, the system comprising:
a test structure formed on an IC chip comprising:
an interconnect configuration formed on the IC chip and comprising a test interconnect and a target interconnect, the interconnect configuration having the target interconnect capacitance between the test and target interconnects;
a test interconnect charging circuit formed on the IC chip and connected to the test interconnect, the test interconnect charging circuit being configured to place a test charge on the test interconnect; and
a target interconnect charging circuit formed on the IC chip and connected to the target interconnect, the target interconnect charging circuit being configured to draw a target interconnect charging current from the target interconnect in response to the test charge to place an opposite charge on the target interconnect that is induced by the target interconnect capacitance;
a current meter connected to the target interconnect charging circuit and configured to make a measurement of the target interconnect charging current, whereby a measurement of the target interconnect capacitance may be computed from the measurement of the target interconnect charging current.
32. The system of
claim 31
wherein the test interconnect charging circuit is further configured to draw a test interconnect charging current to the test interconnect to place the test charge on the test interconnect.
33. The system of
claim 32
wherein:
the test structure has reset and measure phases of operation;
the test interconnect charging circuit is further configured to draw a test interconnect discharging current from the test interconnect during the reset phase to remove any pre-existing charge on the test interconnect and draw the test interconnect charging current to the test interconnect during the measure phase; and
the target interconnect charging circuit is further configured to draw a target interconnect discharging current to the target interconnect during the reset phase to remove any pre-existing charge on the target interconnect and draw the target interconnect charging current from the target interconnect during the measure phase.
34. The system of
claim 33
farther comprising:
a control signal generator to generate test interconnect charge and discharging control signals and target interconnect charge and discharging control signals;
the test interconnect charging circuit being connected to the control signal generator and further configured to be responsive to the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals such that:
in the reset phase, the test interconnect discharging current is drawn when the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is not to occur and discharging is to occur;
in the measure phase the test interconnect charging current is drawn when the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is to occur and discharging is not to occur; and
the target interconnect charging circuit being connected to the control signal generator and further configured to be responsive to the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals such that:
in the reset phase, the target interconnect discharging current is drawn when the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is not to occur and discharging is to occur; and
in the measure phase, the target interconnect charging current is drawn when the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is to occur and discharging is not to occur.
35. The system of
claim 34
wherein the target interconnect charging circuit comprises first and second transistors connected to the target interconnect and configured to be respectively responsive to the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals such that:
in the reset phase, the first and second transistors are respectively turned on and off when the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is to occur and discharging is not to occur so as to draw the target interconnect charging current;
in the measure phase, the first and second transistors are respectively turned off and on when the target interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is not to occur and discharging is to occur so as to draw the target interconnect discharging current.
36. The system of
claim 35
wherein the test interconnect charging circuit comprises third and fourth transistors connected to the test interconnect and configured to be respectively responsive to the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals such that:
in the reset phase, the third and fourth transistors are respectively turned on and off when the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is to occur and discharging is not to occur so as to draw the test interconnect charging current; and
in the measure phase, the third and fourth transistors are respectively turned off and on when the test interconnect charge and discharging control signals respectively indicate that charging is not to occur and discharging is to occur so as to draw the test interconnect discharging current.
37. The system of
claim 34
wherein the control signal generator is formed on the IC chip and the test structure comprises the control signal generator.
38. The system of
claim 37
wherein:
the control signal generator comrpises a frequency divider to divide the frequency of a selected control signal of the test and target interconnect charging and discharging control signals by a pre-selected factor to generate a frequency divided signal; and
the system further comprising a frequency meter to make a measurement of the frequency of the frequency divided signal, whereby the measurement of the target capacitance may further be computed from the pre-selected factor and the measurement of the frequency.
Description
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

1. The present invention relates generally to techniques of extracting parameter measurements for circuit simulations. In particular, it pertains to an improved IC chip, on-chip test structure, and corresponding method for modeling one or more interconnect capacitances. Precise measurements of the interconnect capacitances can be made with the test structure. These measurements are then used to accurately extract interconnect parameter measurements for circuit simulations.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

2. As integrated circuits become increasingly laden with metal or polysilicon interconnects, the resulting interconnect capacitances are rapidly becoming a bottleneck in the design of faster ICs. It has therefore become very important to model these capacitances in order to accurately simulate the performance of ICs. However, it is difficult to make measurements of modeled interconnect capacitances with high accuracy and resolution. As a result, the extraction of interconnect parameters using these measurements is often not precise. This causes circuit simulations performed without correctly extracted interconnect parameters to be inaccurate and unreliable.

3. In the past, on-chip test structures have been used in attempts to model interconnect capacitances with higher accuracy and resolution. However, many of these test structures suffer from significant deficiencies which make them inefficient and/or result in interconnect capacitance measurements made with them being inaccurate and/or having low resolution.

4. For example, the on-chip test structures disclosed in Khalkhal, A., et al., On-Chip Measurement of Interconnect Capacitances in a CMOS Process, Proc. IEEE 1995 Int. Conf. on Microelectronic Test Structures, vol. 8 (March 1995), Gaston, G. J., et al., Efficient Extraction of Metal Parasitic Capacitances, Proc. IEEE 1995 Int. Conf. on Microelectronic Test Structures, vol. 8 (March 1995), Shyu, J. B., et al., Random Effects in Matched MOS Capacitors and Current Sources, IEEE Journal of Solid State Circuits, vol. sc-19(6):948-955 (December 1984), Kortekaas, C., On-Chip Quasi-Static Floating-Gate Capacitance Measurement Method, Proc. IEEE 1990 Int. Conf. on Microelectronic Test Structures, vol. 3 (March 1990), and Laquai, B., et al., A New Method and Test Structure for Easy Determination of Femto-Farad On-Chip Capacitances in a MOS Process, Proc. IEEE 1992 Int. Conf. on Microelectronic Test Structures, vol. 5:62-66 (March 1992), require a reference capacitor and/or a complicated test structure design and measurement set-up. Moreover, these test structures provide only picofarad or femptofarad resolution and occupy a large chip area.

5. An improved test structure with attofared resolution is disclosed in Chen, J. C., et al., An On-Chip, Attofared Interconnect Charge-Based Capacitance Measurement (CBCM) Technique, Proc. of IEDM 1996, pp. 69-72. This test structure has a reference structure and a target structure. The reference structure is identical to the target structure except that the interconnect configuration of the reference structure does not include the target interconnect capacitance to be modeled and measured. The difference in current between charging (or discharging) the total capacitances of the reference and target structures is then used to compute a measurement of the target interconnect capacitance.

6. One problem with such a test structure is that it requires a corresponding reference structure for the target structure. This obviously increases the chip area of the entire test structure.

7. Another problem is that the test structure can only be used to measure one target interconnect capacitance. Thus, if an IC designed by an IC designer has a complicated interconnect configuration with many interconnect capacitances in close proximity to each other, a separate test structure is required for each of these interconnect capacitances. This increases the chip area of the IC chip on which all of the test structures are formed.

8. Conversely, if only one test structure is used for a complicated interconnect configuration, only one lumped interconnect capacitance can be modeled and measured. This means that the specific interconnect capacitances that comprise the lumped capacitance cannot be separately modeled and measured.

9. In view of the foregoing, it would be highly desirable to provide an improved test structure that has small chip area and is capable of separately modeling all of the specific interconnect capacitances in a complicated interconnect configuration. Ideally, the interconnect capacitance measurements made with such a test structure could be used to extract interconnect parameters for accurately simulating ICs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

10. In summary, the present invention comprises a system, an IC chip, a test structure formed on the IC chip, and a corresponding method for modeling one or more target interconnect capacitances.

11. The test structure comprises an interconnect configuration formed on the IC chip. The interconnect configuration comprises a test interconnect and one or more target interconnects. The interconnect configuration has, for each target interconnect, a corresponding target interconnect capacitance between the test interconnect and the target interconnect.

12. The test structure also comprises a test interconnect charging circuit formed on the IC chip and connected to the test interconnect. The test interconnect charging circuit is configured to place a test charge on the test interconnect.

13. The test structure further comprises one or more target interconnect charging circuits. Each target interconnect charging circuit is formed on the IC chip and connected to a corresponding target interconnect. Each target interconnect charging circuit is configured to draw a target interconnect charging current from the corresponding target interconnect in response to the test charge. This places an opposite charge on the corresponding target interconnect that is induced by the corresponding target interconnect capacitance.

14. A measurement of the target interconnect charging current can be made with a current meter of the system. From this measurement, a measurement of the corresponding target interconnect capacitance may be computed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

15.FIG. 1 is a circuit schematic of an on-chip test structure for modeling one or more target interconnect capacitances.

16.FIG. 2 shows a cross sectional layout of an interconnect configuration in the test structure of FIG. 1.

17.FIG. 3 provides a timing diagram of the control signals used in the test structure of FIG. 1.

18.FIG. 4 shows an embodiment where the on-chip test structure of FIG. 1 is formed on an IC chip together with an IC.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

19. Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown a system 100 for modeling one or more target interconnect capacitances c1 to cN, where N>1. The system comprises an on-chip test structure 101 formed on an IC chip 102. The test structure is used in conjunction with the other components of the system, namely an off-chip current meter (A) 138, an off-chip frequency meter (Hz) 139, off-chip voltage sources 128 to 131, and probes 133 to 137, to make measurements of the target interconnect capacitances. As will be described in the following sections, measurements of these target interconnect capacitances may be made and used to extract interconnect parameter measurements for circuit simulation.

20. Test Structure Configuration

21. The test structure 101 comprises an interconnect configuration (i.e., structure) 104 to model the target interconnect capacitances c1 to cN. The interconnect configuration models the same interconnect configuration that will appear in an IC. Thus, it is designed and fabricated on the IC chip 102 according to the same physical parameters and semiconductor process steps that are used in designing and fabricating the IC.

22. The interconnect configuration 104 comprises a test interconnect 105 and one or more target interconnects 106-1 to 106-N. These interconnects may be metal or polysilicon. Furthermore, each target capacitance cn, where 1≦n≦N, exists between the test interconnect 105 and a corresponding target interconnect 106-n.

23. A cross sectional view of how the interconnect configuration 104 is laid out on the IC chip 102 is shown in FIG. 2. The interconnect configuration is formed on a semiconductor substrate 107 of the IC chip. In addition to the interconnects 105 and 106-1 to 106-N, the interconnect configuration also comprises an insulating material 108, such as oxide, formed on the substrate. The interconnects are patterned within the insulating material in a simple or complicated configuration or geometry. For example, the interconnect configuration may comprise only two parallel interconnects 105 and 106-1. Or, it may comprise an interconnect 105 with many overlapping, parallel, intertwined, and/or snaking interconnects 106-1 to 106-N. Each target capacitance cn is formed by the test interconnect 105, the corresponding target interconnect 106-n, and the insulating material 108 between these two interconnects.

24. Referring back to FIG. 1, the test structure 101 also comprises target interconnect charging circuits 109-1 to 109-N, output pads 110-1 to 110-N, and an input pad 111. The target interconnect charging circuits, output pads, and input pad are all formed on the IC chip 102 using conventional semiconductor process techniques.

25. For each target interconnect 106-n, there is a corresponding target interconnect charging circuit 109-n and a corresponding output pad 110-n. Each target interconnect charging circuit 109-n is configured to enable a measurement of the corresponding target interconnect capacitance cn to be made. For this purpose, it comprises two NMOS transistors 112 and 113.

26. The drain, gate, and source of the transistor 112 are respectively connected to the corresponding target interconnect 106-n, a target interconnect charging control circuit 115, and the corresponding output pad 110-n. The control circuit is located in a control signal generator 114 of the test structure 101. It provides a target interconnect charging control signal CHRG1 to the gate of the transistor during operation of the test structure. During this time, the output pad is connected to the local ground voltage source 131 via the current meter 138 and the probe 133 connected to the current meter. This connects the source of the transistor to the ground voltage source so that it receives the ground voltage VGND.

27. Similarly, the drain, gate, and source of the other transistor 113 are respectively connected to the corresponding interconnect 106-n, a target interconnect discharging control circuit 116 in the control signal generator 114, and the input pad 111. During operation of the test structure 101, the control circuit provides a target interconnect discharging control signal DCHRG1 to the gate of the transistor. During this time, the input pad is connected to the global ground voltage source 129 with the probe 134 to receive the ground voltage VGND. As a result, the source of the transistor is connected to the ground voltage source and receives the ground voltage VGND.

28. The test structure 101 also comprises a test interconnect charging circuit 117 and an input pad 118 formed on the IC chip 102 using conventional semiconductor process techniques. The off-chip supply voltage source 128 is connected between this input pad and the global ground voltage source 129 during operation of the test structure 101. This is done with the probe 135 connected to the supply voltage source. As a result, the input pad receives a supply voltage VDD from the voltage source.

29. The test interconnect charging circuit 117 comprises a PMOS transistor 119. The source and gate of the transistor are respectively connected to the input pad 118 and a test interconnect charging control signal generator 121 in the control signal generator 114. The input pad and probe 135 connect the source of the transistor to the supply voltage source 128 during operation of the test structure 101. This provides the supply voltage VDD to the source of the transistor. And, during this time, the control circuit provides a test interconnect charging control signal CHRG2 to the gate of the transistor.

30. The test interconnect charging circuit 117 also comprises an NMOS transistor 120. The gate and the source of the transistor are respectively connected to a test interconnect discharging control circuit 122 in the control signal generator 114 and the input pad 111. During operation of the test structure 101, the control circuit provides a test interconnect discharging control signal DCHRG2 to the gate of the transistor. Since the input pad is connected to the global ground voltage source 129 with the probe 134 during this time, the source of the transistor is connected to the global ground voltage source and receives the ground voltage VGND.

31. The drains of the transistors 119 and 120 are connected together and to the test interconnect 104. This connection forms a node 123 of the test interconnect charging circuit 117. The node is used to charge and discharge the test interconnect during operation of the test structure 101. The manner in which this is done is described in the section covering the operation of the test structure 101.

32. The control signal generator 114 and input and output pads 124 and 125 of the test structure 101 are formed on the IC chip 102 using conventional semiconductor process techniques as well. In addition to the control circuits 115, 116, 121, and 122, the control signal generator also comprises a clock circuit 126 and a frequency divider (M) 127.

33. The clock circuit 126 is connected to the control circuits 115, 116, 121, and 122 and the input pads 111, 118, and 124. During operation, the clock circuit is connected to the supply and global ground voltage sources 128 and 129 with the input pads 118 and 111 and probes 135 and 134. It therefore receives the supply and ground voltages VDD and VGND and in response generates a clock signal CLK. The frequency of the clock signal is controlled with a frequency control voltage Vfreq. During operation, the off-chip variable voltage source 130 is connected between the input pad 124 and the global ground voltage source 129. This is done with the probe 136 connected to the variable voltage source and connects the clock circuit to the variable voltage source to receive the frequency control voltage. In response to variations in the frequency control voltage, the clock circuit adjusts the frequency of the clock signal.

34. The control circuits 115, 116, 121, and 122 are each connected to the clock circuit 126 to receive the clock signal CLK. In response, the control circuits generate their respective control signals CHRG1, DCHRG1, CHRG2, and DCHRG2.

35. The frequency divider 127 is connected to the target interconnect charging control circuit 115 to receive the target interconnect charging control signal CHRG1. It divides the frequency fCHRG1 of this control signal by a pre-selected factor M so that it can be measured. The frequency divider is connected to the output pad 125 to provide it with the resulting measurable frequency signal FREQ. The frequency fCHRG1/M of this signal is measured with the frequency meter 139 during operation of the test structure when the frequency meter is connected between this output pad and the global ground voltage source 129. This is done with the probe 137 connected to the frequency meter.

36. Test Structure Operation

37. The method of making a measurement of any target interconnect capacitance cn during operation of the test structure 101 will now be described with respect to FIGS. 1 and 3. Example waveforms of the control signals CHRG1, DCHRG1, CHRG2, and DCHRG2 required for making such a measurement are shown in the timing diagram of FIG. 3. Over the various phases (i.e., modes or time periods) of operation of the test structure, these control signals transition back and forth between low at 0 V (volts) and high at VDD. As alluded to earlier, the frequency fCHRG1 of these signals is arbitrary and can be set with the frequency control signal Vfreq. In the timing diagram of FIG. 1, this frequency is 1 MHz.

38. During a reset phase between 0 ns and 300 ns, the test structure 101 is reset for measurement of the interconnect capacitance cn. The discharge and charging control signals DCHRG2 and CHRG2 are high during this phase and respectively indicate that discharging is to occur and charging is not to occur on the test interconnect 105. In other words, only discharging is to occur. In the charging circuit 117, this turns on the transistor 120 while leaving the transistor 119 off. As a result, a discharging current IDCHRG2 is drawn by the transistor 120 from the interconnect to the global ground voltage source 129. This removes any pre-existing charge on the interconnect.

39. Similarly, the discharging control signal DCHRG1 is high and the charging control signal CHRG1 is low during the reset phase and together indicate that only discharging is to occur on the corresponding interconnect 106-n. Thus, the discharging control signal indicates that discharging is to occur while the charging control signal indicates that charging is not to occur. In the corresponding target interconnect charging circuit 109-n, this turns on the transistor 113 and leaves the transistor 112 off. A discharging current IDCHRG1 is therefore drawn by the transistor 112 from the local ground voltage source 131 to the target interconnect. Thus, any pre-existing charge on the target interconnect is also removed.

40. During an off phase between 300 ns and 400 ns, the discharging control signals DCHRG2 and DCHRG1 are low and indicate that discharging is not to occur on the interconnects 105 and 106-n, respectively. The charging control signals CHRG2 and CHRG1 remain respectively high and low during this phase and indicate that charging is not to occur on these interconnects as well. Thus, all of the transistors 119, 120, 112, and 113 are turned off.

41. During an enable phase from 400 ns to 500 ns, the charging control signal CHRG1 is high and indicates that charging on the target interconnect 106-n is to occur. The charging control signal CHRG2 remains high while the discharging control signals DCHRG2 and DCHRG1 remain low. This turns on the transistor 112 and leaves the other transistors 119, 120, and 113 off. The test structure 101 is now enabled for measuring the target interconnect capacitance cn.

42. Then, during a measure phase between 500 ns and 800 ns, the charging control signal CHRG2 is low and indicates that charging on the test interconnect 105 is to occur. The discharging control signal DCHRG2 remains low. The transistor 119 is now turned on while the transistor 120 is still off. Therefore, the transistor 119 draws a charging current ICHRG2 from the external voltage source 128 to the test interconnect. This places a desired charge (cn) (VDD) on the test interconnect.

43. Since the interconnects 105 and 106-n are coupled together by the target interconnect capacitance cn, an equal but opposite charge −(cn) (VDD) is induced on the target interconnect 106-n during the measure phase. The charging control signal CHRG1 is high during this time period so that the transistor 112 is kept on. As a result, a measurable charging current ICHRG1 is drawn from the target interconnect through the current meter 138 and to the local ground voltage source 131. This places the opposite charge on the target interconnect. A measurement of this current is made with the current meter during this phase.

44. During a disabling phase between 800 ns and 900 ns, the charging control signals CHRG2 and CHRG1 are high while the discharging control signals DCHRG2 and DCHRG1 remain low. This turns off the transistors 119 and 120 so that the test structure 101 is disabled from placing anymore charge on the test interconnect 105. However, the transistors 112 and 113 are respectively on and off so that the measurable charging current ICHRG1 is still being drawn from the target interconnect 106-n and measured with the current meter 138. This is done to ensure that all of the opposite charge −(cn) (VDD) on the target interconnect 106-n has been measured.

45. Then, the charging control signal CHRG2 is high and the discharge and charging control signals DCHRG2, CHRG1, and DCHRG1 are low during another off phase between 900 ns and 1000 ns. Thus, all of the transistors 119, 120, 112, and 113 are now turned off. The measurement of the measurable charging current ICHRG1 is complete for this cycle.

46. The process just described is then repeated over one or more measurement cycles. Since a conventional current meter 138 is used, it provides a measurement of the average current IAVG for the measurable charging current ICHRG1 according to: I AVG = 1 T I CHRG1 ( t ) t ( 1 )

47. where t represents time and T is the time period of one measurement cycle. While this is all occurring, the frequency meter 139 is used to make a measurement of the frequency fCHRG1/M of the measure control signal in a conventional manner. From these measurements and the known values for the supply voltage VDD and the factor M, a measurement of the target interconnect capacitance cn can then be computed according to: c n = I AVG ( V DD ) ( f CHRG1 / M ) ( M ) ( 2 )

48. This provides a highly accurate measurement with attofared resolution.

49. The method just described may be performed similarly for any of the other target interconnect capacitances c1, . . . , cn+1, . . . , cN in the interconnect configuration 104, regardless of their size, position, configuration, and/or geometry. Furthermore, the method may be performed serially for each target interconnect capacitance cn by appropriately connecting the current meter 138 to the corresponding measure sub-circuit 109-n. Or, it may be performed simultaneously for all of the interconnect capacitances c1 to cN with corresponding current meters connected to the target interconnect charging circuits 109-n to 109-N. Thus, only one test structure 101 is required to measure all of the interconnect capacitances in this specific interconnect configuration. This minimizes the chip area required by the test structure on the IC chip 102.

50. Alternative Embodiments

51. As those skilled in the art will recognize, alternative embodiments to that shown in FIG. 1 do exist. For example, only NMOS or only PMOS transistors may be used in the charging circuit 117. Of course, this would require a corresponding inversion of one of the charge and discharge signals CHRG2 and DCHRG2. Similarly, only PMOS transistors may be used in each target interconnect charging circuit 109-n. This also would require inversion of the charge and discharging control signals CHRG1 and DCHRG1.

52. Furthermore, the control signal generator 114 is shown in FIG. 1 as being located on the IC chip 102. In another embodiment, it could also be located off-chip. In this case, the test structure 101 would include input pads to receive the respective control signals CHRG1, DCHRG1, CHRG2, and DCHRG2. The input pads would be formed on the IC chip using conventional semiconductor process techniques and would be connected to the respective control circuits 115, 116, 121, and 122 of the control signal generator with corresponding probes. The input pads would also be connected to the respective transistors 112, 113, 119, and 120 to provide them with the respective control signals.

53. In the section covering the operation of the test structure 101, it is mentioned that a measurement of the frequency fCHRG2 of the charging control signal CHRG2 is to be made in order to make a measurement of the target interconnect capacitance cn. In other embodiments, a measurement of the frequency of any one of the other control signals CHRG1, DCHRG1, and DCHRG2 can also be selected for this purpose. In this case, the corresponding control circuit 115, 116, or 122 will be connected to the frequency divider 127.

54. As mentioned in the section covering the configuration of the test structure 101, the interconnect configuration 104 of the test structure is used to model an interconnect configuration in an IC. As shown in FIG. 4, this IC 132 may also be formed on the same IC chip 102 with the test structure 101. In this way, the IC and the test structure can be fabricated simultaneously with exactly the same physical parameters and semiconductor process steps. Moreover, the measurements of the interconnect capacitances c1 to cN can be directly made by the manufacturer or a buyer of the IC chip. Alternatively, the test structure may be formed on a separate IC chip than the IC.

55. As will also be appreciated by those skilled in the art, the test structure 101 may be formed on the IC chip 102 with other test structures that include different interconnect configurations than that of the test structure 101. These interconnect configurations will also be formed according to the physical parameters and semiconductor process steps that are used in designing and fabricating the IC that will include them.

56. Conclusion

57. The invention disclosed herein comprises an improved on-chip test structure 101 and corresponding method for modeling target interconnect capacitances c1 to cN of a particular interconnect configuration 104. The interconnect configuration may have a simple or complicated configuration or geometry. The use of a target interconnect charging circuit 109-n for each target interconnect 106-n enables the corresponding target interconnect capacitance cn to be measured with high accuracy and resolution. Moreover, only one test structure is required for making these measurements so that the chip area of the IC chip 102 on which it is formed is small.

58. The high accuracy and resolution of the measurements of the interconnect capacitances c1 to cN enables interconnect parameter measurements to be accurately extracted for circuit simulations. The extracted interconnect parameter measurements include measurements of interconnect heights and widths, oxide thicknesses between interconnects, and the interconnect capacitances. The circuit simulations in which the extracted interconnect parameter measurements are used are therefore very precise.

59. Finally, although the present invention has been described with reference to a few specific embodiments, the description is illustrative of the invention and is not to be construed as limiting the invention. Various modifications may occur to those skilled in the art without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims and their equivalents.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US6894520Jan 31, 2003May 17, 2005Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.Semiconductor device and capacitance measurement method
US7340703Oct 26, 2004Mar 4, 2008Hazem Mahmoud HegazyTest structures and method for interconnect impedance property extraction
US7750660Mar 30, 2006Jul 6, 2010Qualcomm IncorporatedIntegrated circuit with improved test capability via reduced pin count
WO2007115196A2 *Mar 30, 2007Oct 11, 2007Qualcomm IncIntegrated circuit with improved test capability via reduced pin count
WO2007115218A2 *Mar 30, 2007Oct 11, 2007Qualcomm IncIntegrated circuit with improved test capability via reduced pin count
WO2007130764A1 *Mar 30, 2007Nov 15, 2007Qualcomm IncIntegrated circuit with improved test capability via reduced pin count
Classifications
U.S. Classification324/750.3
International ClassificationG01R31/30, G01R31/28
Cooperative ClassificationG01R31/2884, G01R31/3004
European ClassificationG01R31/30C, G01R31/28G4
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