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  • Semiconductor Device Physics, Lab in a Box

    One of my favorite classes in college was the lab exercise, mostly because we actually got to use real electronics and then measure something, finally writing it up in our lab notebooks. The issue today is that a college student taking Electrical Engineering probably doesn't have much access to 10nm FinFET silicon for use in a lab class, and they are probably using really out of date materials and lab exercises. At the DAC exhibit in Austin held in June I was able to visit the booth of Platform Design Automation and see something new that they call the Semiconductor Education Kit (SEK).

    Article: Challenges of Implementing LTE-pda-dac-min-jpg

    Let's say that you want to train someone about modern semiconductor devices so that they can plot waveforms of currents versus voltage (IV), or parasitics (CV) of modern devices like:

    • FinFET
    • 28nm planar CMOS
    • SOI
    • Bipolar
    • III/V devices
    • Passive devices

    Using the SEK, this semiconductor device training is now practical and possible. Here are four situations where using a semiconductor device emulator could be used:

    1. Semiconductor device characterization lab.
    2. Device Model teaching tool to give hands on experience with both device modeling and circuit analysis best practices.
    3. Semiconductor physics teaching, short-channel effects, stress effects, reliability, and variation.
    4. What-if analysis, where you can mock up new device architectures with standard SPICE modeling and interface software.

    So what's included with the SEK? There's the hardware jig and software combined.

    Article: Challenges of Implementing LTE-de101-min-jpg

    On the left panel of the DE101 is a device type selection for emulation, giving you lots of choices:
    NameDevice TypeDescription
    NMOS 180nmMOSFETW=0.204um,L=0.15um
    NMOS 28nmMOSFETW=0.1um,L=0.03um
    PMOS 28nmMOSFETW=0.1um,L=0.04um
    SOI FBMOSFETW=0.15um,L=0.13um
    SOI TBMOSFETW=0.15um,L=0.13um
    DiodeDIODEArea=4e-10 m2
    ResistorRESISTORW=0.15um; L=75um
    HEMT GaAsMOSFETW=20um;L=0.07um;nf=2
    HEMT GaNMOSFETW=20um;L=0.07um;nf=6
    In the upper right panel you can see the connections for you Device Under Test (DUT) displayed on the LED.

    The lower right panel is where the Test Setup is located, where you have Source Measure Units (SMUs), LCR connections, temperature, and time for reliability.

    Using the SEK in measurement mode shows real semiconductor device parameters as a function of the environmental choices:

    Article: Challenges of Implementing LTE-measurement-mode-min-jpg
    In modeling mode you can use the SEK with the MeQlab modeling software to show real model fitting, nominal and corner model extraction, explore process variability, or view noise and reliability characteristics:

    Article: Challenges of Implementing LTE-modeling-mode-min-jpg
    Teachers can use the EELab software to show students how device physics can be understood quickly when visualized as plots. Shown circled on this plot is the operating region between sub-threshold conduction and the linear region:

    Article: Challenges of Implementing LTE-teaching-mode-min-jpg
    The final mode of operation for the SEK is called demo mode, and this is where you can learn about analyzers, SMUs, LCR and noise characterization:

    Article: Challenges of Implementing LTE-demo-mode-min-jpg
    I sure wish that the University of Minnesota had one of these setups back when I got my Electrical Engineering degree, because it would've made me come up to speed a bit quicker for when I joined Intel and learned how to do DRAM design. This is a new type of product category, and I've never heard of another vendor offering anything quite like it.

    Read more about the SEK online.