Impact of MOSFET gate oxide breakdown on digital circuit operation and reliability

Ben Kaczer, Robin Degraeve, Mahmoud Rasras, Koen Van De Mieroop, Philippe J. Roussel, Guido Groeseneken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The influence of FET gate oxide breakdown on the performance of a ring oscillator circuit is studied using statistical tools, emission microscopy, and circuit analysis. It is demonstrated that many hard breakdowns can occur in this circuit without affecting its overall function. Time-to-breakdown data measured on individual FETs are shown to scale correctly to circuit level. SPICE simulations of the ring oscillator with the affected FET represented by an equivalent circuit confirm the measured influence of the breakdown on the circuit's frequency, the stand-by and the operating currents. It is concluded that if maintaining a digital circuit's logical functionality is the sufficient reliability criterion, a nonzero probability exists that the circuit will remain functional beyond the first gate oxide breakdown. Consequently, relaxation of the present reliability criterion in certain cases might be possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-506
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Electron Devices
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2002


  • CMOS digital integrated circuits
  • CMOSFET oscillators
  • Circuit reliability
  • Dielectric breakdown

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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