SUBJECT: Ph.D. Dissertation Defense
BY: Sathyanarayanan Raghavan
TIME: Monday, October 20, 2014, 9:00 a.m.
PLACE: MARC Building, 201
COMMITTEE: Dr. Suresh Sitaraman, Chair (ME)
Dr. Samuel Graham (ME)
Dr. Olivier Pierron (ME)
Dr. Christopher Muhlstein (MSE)
Dr. Oliver Brand (ECE)


With continued feature size reduction in microelectronics and with more than a billion transistors on a single integrated circuit (IC), on-chip interconnection has become a challenge in terms of processing-, electrical-, thermal-, and mechanical perspective. Today’s high-performance ICs have on-chip back-end-of-line (BEOL) layers that consist of copper traces and vias interspersed with low-k dielectric materials. These layers have thicknesses in the range of 100 nm near the transistors and 1000 nm away from the transistors and near the solder bumps. In such BEOL layered stacks, cracking and/or delamination is a common failure mode due to the low mechanical and adhesive strength of the dielectric materials as well as due to high thermally-induced stresses. This work focuses on developing framework based on cohesive zone modeling approach to study interfacial delamination in sub-micron thick BEOL stack layers. Such a framework is then successfully applied to predict microelectronic device reliability. As intentionally creating pre-fabricated cracks in such interfaces is difficult, this work examines a combination of four-point bend and double-cantilever beam tests to create initial cracks and to develop cohesive zone parameters over a range of mode-mixity. Similarly, a combination of four-point bend and end-notch flexure tests is used to cover additional range of mode-mixity. In these tests, silicon wafers obtained from wafer foundry are used for experimental characterization. The developed parameters are then used in actual microelectronic device FE simulations to predict the onset and propagation of crack, and the results from such predictions are successfully validated with experimental data. In addition, nanoindenter-based shear test technique designed specifically for this study is demonstrated. The new test technique can address different mode-mixities compared to other interfacial fracture characterization tests, is sensitive to capture the change in fracture parameter due to changes in local trace pattern variations around the vicinity of bump and the test mimics the forces experienced by the bump during flip-chip assembly reflow process. Through this experimental and theoretical modeling research, guidelines are also developed for the reliable design of BEOL stacks for current and future-generation microelectronic devices.