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A simple subthreshold swing model for short channel

MOSFETs
A. Godoy
*
, J.A. L opez-Villanueva, J.A. Jimenez-Tejada, A. Palma, F. Gamiz
Departamento de Electr onica, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada, 18071 Granada, Spain
Received 14 September 2000; received in revised form 24 January 2001; accepted 25 January 2001
Abstract
A new approach to calculate the subthreshold swing of short channel bulk and silicon-on-insulator metal oxide
semiconductor eld eect transistors is presented. The procedure utilizes a channel-potential expression appropriate for
submicron dimensions. The nal result is similar to that used for long channels except for a factor k which represents
the short channel eects. Comparison with dierent published results reveals excellent quantitative agreement. 2001
Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
The gain in integrability and speed is the main reason
for the continuous miniaturization of metal oxide
semiconductor eld eect transistors (MOSFETs). Bulk
CMOS remains as the main technology for submicron
gate ULSI systems. However, thin-lm silicon-on-insu-
lator (SOI) MOSFETs are of great interest due to im-
proved isolation and reduced parasitic capacitances
compared to bulk silicon technology.
As device dimensions are reduced, the so-called short
channel eects (SCE) become increasingly important
due to the penetration of the lateral eld into the
channel region. From these eects, degradation of
threshold voltage and the increase in subthreshold
swing, S, are the most signicant [13].
Much work has been focused on the study of
threshold voltage and dierent approaches have been
used to make an analytical model of the behavior of this
parameter [46]. However, despite its importance, few
articles have dealt with the modeling of S, a key factor
for transistor performance. Deterioration of the sub-
threshold behavior increases the o-current level and
standby power dissipation and reduces noise immunity
[2]. Such characteristics become particularly important
for low voltage portable electronics [7]. Two-dimen-
sional device simulators are usually used, though a
simple analytical model would be very valuable to un-
derstand the device physics.
Here, a short channel subthreshold swing model is
derived for three dierent structures: bulk, thin lm fully
depleted and double-gate (DG) SOI MOSFETs. The
nal expression is the same for the three devices. The
only dierence is a factor l, a natural length scale in-
troduced as a scaling parameter.
With this model, the accelerated S increase observed
in the very short channel range can be accurately pre-
dicted. Because of its simple functional form and com-
putational eciency, this model is suitable for the
guidelines of technology design and can be used in cir-
cuit simulation.
2. Analytical model
In this section, we provide the analytic framework
necessary to develop a subthreshold swing model for a
conventional MOSFET. After that, fully depleted and
DG SOI structures are analyzed. For all these devices a
negligible interface state density has been assumed.
Solid-State Electronics 45 (2001) 391397
*
Corresponding author. Tel.: +34-58-243230; fax: +34-58-
243227.
E-mail address: agodoy@ugr.es (A. Godoy).
0038-1101/01/$ - see front matter 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PII: S0038- 1101( 01) 00060- 0
2.1. Bulk MOSFETs
The subthreshold swing, S, is dened as the change in
gate bias required to change the subthreshold drain
current by one decade, and is given by:
S =
oV
g
o log I
D
; (1)
where V
g
is the gate voltage and I
D
the drain current.
The key point in this expression lies in the fact that V
g
and I
D
are related through the minimum of the surface
potential, w
S min
, since drain current at subthreshold
operation is dominated by a diusion process whereby
the current may be computed in terms of the probability
of a source electron surmounting an energy barrier. The
height of this barrier is qw
S min
, which is a function of the
applied gate voltage and where q is the electron charge.
Thus, I
D
is proportional to exp(w
S min
=V
T
) where V
T
is
the thermal voltage. Therefore, it is more convenient to
represent S as:
S =
oV
g
ow
S min
ow
S min
o ln I
D
ln(10): (2)
At this point, the calculation of the second derivative
in Eq. (2) is straightforward.
For a long channel MOSFET in the subthreshold
regime, if the mobile channel charge is neglected, it is
possible to state:
V
g
V
FB
= w
SL

Q
dep
C
ox
; (3)
where V
FB
is the at band, w
SL
is the long channel sur-
face potential, Q
dep
is the depletion charge and C
ox
is the
oxide capacitance. As for a long channel device the
surface potential is constant along the channel, it follows
that:
oV
g
ow
S min
= 1
C
dep
C
ox
; (4)
where C
dep
is the depletion capacitance. Hence, we can
conclude that for a long channel transistor:
S = 1


C
dep
C
ox

V
T
ln(10): (5)
Nevertheless, we are mainly interested in including
the SCEs. Since subthreshold conduction is governed by
the potential distribution, it is necessary to consider an
analytical expression that is appropriate for such di-
mensions. A widely employed model for the electrical
potential along the channel is given by [5]:
w(y) = w
SL
V
bi
( V
ds
w
SL
)
sinh
y
l

sinh
L
l

V
bi
( w
SL
)
sinh
Ly
l

sinh
L
l
; (6)
where y is the parallel coordinate to the SiSiO
2
inter-
face, V
bi
is the built-in potential between the source
substrate and drainsubstrate junctions, V
ds
is the
drainsource voltage, L is the channel length and l is
the characteristic length dened as:
l =

Si
t
ox
X
dep

ox
r
; (7)
where
Si
and
ox
are the permittivity of Si and SiO
2
respectively, t
ox
is the oxide thickness and X
dep
is the
depletion layer thickness. In order to simplify calcula-
tions, X
dep
is assumed to be a constant for which the
surface potential is set at its average value at sub-
threshold operation: 1:5/
B
(= 1:5V
T
ln(N
sub
=n
i
)) with
N
sub
representing the substrate doping concentration and
n
i
the intrinsic carrier concentration. In order to take
into account the eect of the substrate voltage, 1:5/
B
should be substituted by (1:5/
B
V
sub
) in the X
dep
cal-
culation which also modies the Q
dep
, C
dep
and l values.
The dependence of the surface potential, (6), on V
g
is
implicit in w
SL
, which is given by Eq. (3). Expression (6)
predicts a large variation in potential along the channel
for submicron devices. The injection of source electrons
into the channel and therefore the device current is de-
termined by the minimum value of the potential. This
minimum is located at y
0
and can be expressed as [9]:
y
0
=
l
2
log
V
bi
w
SL
( ) exp
L
l

V
bi
w
SL
V
ds
( )
V
bi
w
SL
V
ds
( ) V
bi
w
SL
( ) exp
L
l

4 5
:
(8)
Now, in the calculation of S we make use of the
identity:
ow
S min
oV
g
=
ow(y)
oV
g
!
y=y
0
(9)
which can be obtained deriving Eqs. (6) and (3):
ow(y)
oV
g
!
y=y
0
=
1
1
k

C
dep
C
ox
; (10)
where,
k = 1
sinh
y
0
l

sinh
Ly
0
l

sinh
L
l
: (11)
392 A. Godoy et al. / Solid-State Electronics 45 (2001) 391397
Finally, substituting Eq. (8) in Eq. (11) we obtain:
k = 1
2 V
bi
w
SL
( ) V
ds
( )tgh
L
2l

4 V
bi
w
SL
( ) V
bi
w
SL
V
ds
( ) sinh
2
L
2l

V
2
ds
q :
(12)
Thus, we have obtained a new expression for the
subthreshold swing which resembles the long channel
one and where k is the only dierence:
S =
1
k


C
dep
C
ox

V
T
ln(10): (13)
Therefore, the inuence of the SCE on the sub-
threshold swing is concentrated on the k factor and due
to its simplicity, it is possible to carry out a fast esti-
mation of its importance.
Further simplication is possible if the drain voltage
is small (V
ds
V
bi
w
SL
), when expression (12) reduces
to:
k 1
1
cosh
L
2l
: (14)
Moreover, if L 2l:
k 1 2 exp

L
2l

: (15)
2.2. Fully-depleted SOI MOSFETs
In this structure, the substrate has been replaced by a
thick buried oxide to dramatically reduce the junction
capacitance and a silicon lm of thickness t
Si
is grown
over the oxide. To obtain improved short-channel per-
formance in SOI over conventional MOS transistors, t
Si
must be smaller than the bulk depletion depth X
dep
,
originating a fully-depleted silicon lm.
As we are dealing with a dierent structure it is
necessary to use dierent boundary conditions which
will inuence the potential distributions. However, an
expression similar to Eq. (6) can be used to reproduce
the lateral potential distribution from source to drain.
Yan et al. [8] assumed that the electric eld at the
SiSiO
2
buried interface is approximately zero. This
is equivalent to considering an innite buried oxide
thickness (t
box
). A more general calculation was devel-
oped by Banna et al. [10] since an arbitrary t
box
is in-
cluded in their calculations. Thus, dierent expressions
for the natural length scale are found in both papers.
However, since t
box
is usually much thicker than the
front gate oxide t
ox
both expressions lead to the same
results, as proved in our numerical calculations.There-
fore, we nally write:
l =

Si
t
ox
t
Si

ox
r
: (16)
This expression is equivalent to that employed for
bulk MOSFETs (7) where X
dep
is replaced by t
Si
. For
thin lm transistors, since the silicon lm is fully de-
pleted we have to modify Eq. (3) to state that:
V
g
V
FB
= w
SL

qN
sub
t
Si
C
ox
: (17)
There is no variation of the depletion charge with the
front gate voltage and, as a consequence, using Eqs. (6)
and (17):
oV
g
ow
S min
=
1
k
: (18)
Therefore, we are able to write:
S =
1
k
V
T
ln(10) (19)
where k is similar to expression (12) using the appro-
priate parameters for the device under consideration.
Then, for a long channel transistor, the inverse sub-
threshold slope should reach its theoretical lower limit of
60 mV/dec. However, higher values of S have been
found. To explain subthreshold swing values higher than
60 mV/dec for long channels it must be considered
[11,12] that S is modied by parameters such as the
buried oxide thickness, which is not included in our
model since the former derivation did not account for
the capacitive coupling between the front and back in-
terfaces. In order to consider this eect, it is possible to
use a more elaborate model [11,12]:
oV
g
ow
SL
= 1
C
box
C
Si
C
ox
C
Si
C
box
( )
(20)
where C
Si
(=
Si
=t
Si
) is the silicon lm capacitance and
C
box
(=
ox
=t
box
) is the back gate oxide capacitance. This
expression should be multiplied by Eq. (19) to take into
account the correction factor. Nevertheless, our nu-
merical calculations have demonstrated that the eect of
Eq. (20) is negligible when SCE becomes important,
namely, when factor k 1.
2.3. Double-gate SOI MOSFETs
In this structure, the buried oxide is replaced by a
gate oxide and we will further consider the symmetrical
device for which equal voltages are applied at both front
and back gates. For this device:
V
g
V
FB
= w
SL

qN
sub
C
ox
t
Si
2
(21)
and using Eqs. (6) and (21):
A. Godoy et al. / Solid-State Electronics 45 (2001) 391397 393
oV
g
ow
S min
=
1
k
: (22)
Again, expression (6) can be used for the surface
potential where the characteristic length is now dened
as:
l =

Si
t
ox

ox
t
Si
2
r
; (23)
where the silicon lm thickness is halved. Therefore, for
the same device parameters this structure would have a
better subthreshold behavior than the fully depleted one
[8]. Again, we are able to write:
S =
1
k
V
T
ln(10) (24)
with k similar to Eq. (12) using the expressions appro-
priate for double-gate SOI MOSFETs.
3. Validation of the model
In this section, the former theory is compared with
experimental and numerical results presented by dier-
ent authors. Firstly, we compare the results obtained
with expression (13) for a conventional bulk MOSFET
with the data presented by Biesemans et al. [13]. Fig. 1
shows the subthreshold swing versus the substrate
doping concentration, N
sub
. Solid squares represent the
data obtained through Biesemans's model while the
solid line depicts expression (13). For high substrate
doping, S increases because of the increase in the de-
pletion capacitance C
dep
. In the low N
sub
region, the SCE
originate an increase in S since in this situation the lat-
eral eld is unscreened by the dopants. Both models
show the same behavior as a function of N
sub
, although
Eq. (13) is considerably easier to calculate and therefore
computationally more ecient and useful for computer
simulations.
We also used a two dimensional device simulator,
MEDICI [14], in order to study the variation of S with
the channel length. In Fig. 2, solid squares represent the
data obtained from MEDICI, while the solid line is
obtained from our analytical model. As can be seen, S
increases as the channel length is reduced and a very
good agreement is achieved for the whole range of
lengths employed. As can be deduced from the general
denition of S in Eq. (2), this parameter evaluates the
sensitivity of the surface potential to gate voltage vari-
ations. Thus, the reduction of channel length and hence
the appearance of SCE reduces this sensitivity, provo-
king an increase in S. In this gure, the dashed line rep-
resents the results obtained when approximation (15) is
employed. As can be observed, Eq. (15) is not appro-
priate for very short channel lengths where L becomes
comparable with 2l and the complete expression (12) is
necessary to reproduce the 2D simulation successfully.
It is important to note that when channel lengths
approximate 2l, and high drainsource voltages are
applied, it is possible to get negative S values from Eq.
(13). Then, for the correct use of the model, it is neces-
sary to ensure that L > 2l. This phenomenon could be
Fig. 1. Comparison between results from Ref. [13] and our
model, for a bulk MOS transistor with t
ox
= 7:5 nm, L =
0:25 lm and V
ds
= 0:1 V.
Fig. 2. Comparison between 2D numerical simulation and our
model for a bulk conventional MOS transistor with t
ox
=
10 nm, N
sub
= 10
17
cm
3
and V
ds
= 0:1 V. Solid line corre-
sponds to subthreshold swing calculated for k equal to ex-
pression (12) and dashed line is for k equal to expression (15).
394 A. Godoy et al. / Solid-State Electronics 45 (2001) 391397
considered an extreme case of SCE where the behavior
of the device is not appropriate.
To conrm the validity of our analytical model for
SOI devices, we rst used the results presented by
Horiuchi et al. [15]. Their data are shown in Fig. 3 as
solid squares, while the solid line represents our model.
As can be seen from this gure, expression (19) repro-
duces satisfactorily channel lengths as short as 50 nm.
The S roll-up when higher drainsource voltages are
applied is understood as the penetration of the lateral
drain eld into the channel region. The dierences in S
values for long-channel devices could be caused by the
presence of traps at the SiSiO
2
interfaces neglected in
our model.
Moreover, as shown in Fig. 4, we have successfully
reproduced the experimental results presented by Biese-
mans [13] for an SOI device with N
sub
= 3 10
17
cm
3
,
t
ox
= 7 nm, t
Si
= 30 nm, t
box
= 80 nm and V
ds
= 0:1 V.
Fig. 5 presents the dependence of the subthreshold
swing on the silicon lm thickness in a double gate SOI
MOSFET with L = 50 nm, N
sub
= 5 10
17
cm
3
and
V
ds
= 50 mV. Solid squares represent the data obtained
Fig. 4. Comparison between results from Ref. [13] (j) and our
model () for a fully-depleted SOI MOSFET with t
ox
= 7 nm,
t
Si
= 30 nm, t
box
= 80 nm, N
sub
= 3 10
17
cm
3
and V
ds
=
0:1 V.
Fig. 5. Subthreshold swing as a function of the silicon lm
thickness in a double-gate SOI MOSFETs with t
ox
= 3 nm,
L = 50 nm, V
ds
= 50 mV and N
sub
= 5 10
17
cm
3
. Dashed line
shows results from Ref. [16] and solid line our model.
Fig. 3. Comparison between results from Ref. [15] (j) and our model () for a thin lm SOI device with t
ox
= 5 nm, t
Si
= 50 nm,
t
box
= 500 nm and N
sub
= 4 10
17
cm
3
. (a) V
ds
= 0:1 V and (b) V
ds
= 2 V.
A. Godoy et al. / Solid-State Electronics 45 (2001) 391397 395
by Rauly et al. [16] through numerical simulation, while
the solid line shows our model. The minimum silicon
lm thickness used by these authors is 10 nm, which
corresponds to the limit of validity of classical models in
single- and double-gate SOI MOSFETs [16]. Below this
thickness, quantum eects should be taken into account.
Thinning the silicon lm enhances the controllability of
the gate potential on the channel region, resulting in a
reduction in SCE and therefore a decrease in the sub-
threshold swing, as shown in the gure.
Furthermore, it should be stressed that the sensitivity
of S to variations of the silicon lm thickness is lower in
double-gate than in single-gate SOI MOSFETs. To
show this behavior explicitly, we have represented in
Fig. 6 dS=dt
Si
where the dashed line represents a fully
depleted and the solid line, a double-gate SOI transistor.
To evaluate its magnitude, we have employed expression
(15) to simplify the calculations.
Finally, we have also reproduced the numerical re-
sults presented by Suzuki et al. [17] for double-gate SOI
MOSFETs where S is represented as a function of the
channel length. In their model, SCE are expressed by
function exp(L=2l), which is similar to our simplied
expression (15) obtained when L 2l. As shown in Fig.
2, this approximation leads to inaccuracies when short
channels are considered. Moreover, in Ref. [17] a center
potential expression w
c
(y) rather than a surface one was
used to calculate S. However, at weak inversion the
dierences between the two expressions are negligible
since for a typical device with t
Si
= 200

A and N
sub
=
10
15
cm
3
the dierence is about 80 lV.
4. Conclusions
This work presents a simple and accurate analytical
model derived from fundamental device physics for
subthreshold swing of short channel bulk and SOI
MOSFETs. The expression obtained is identical to that
used for long channels except for a factor k which in-
cludes the eects of reducing the channel length. This
term, k, is easily calculated, so that the model is com-
putationally ecient and appropriate for circuit simu-
lators where simple and accurate models are required.
This model can be used for comparison of MOSFET
scaling limits in bulk and SOI technologies.
Acknowledgements
This work has been carried out within the framework
of research project PB97-0815, supported by the Spanish
Government.
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