IEEE Transactions on Device and Materials Reliability, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 200-208, March 2010

The Effect of Electrostatic Discharge on Electrical Overstress Susceptibility in a Gallium Arsenide MESFET-Based Device

Valérie Eveloy
Department ofMechanical Engineering
The Petroleum Institute
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Yu-Chul Hwang and Michael G. Pecht
Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering (CALCE)
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742, USA



The electrostatic discharge (ESD) and electrical overstress (EOS) susceptibility of gallium arsenide (GaAs) MESFET microwave monolithic integrated circuits is investigated using a combination of threshold ESD/EOS tests, ESD step stress tests, and multiple low-level ESD stresses of constant magnitude less than the hard failure threshold voltage. The ESD stresses applied were based on standard ESD test models. Multiple low-level ESD stresses produced no stress hardening or weakening effect on the hard ESD failure threshold voltage of the device and no detectable degradation in electrical performance. However, such stresses were found to increase the device susceptibility to subsequent EOS failure, suggesting that low-level ESD stresses can latently damage GaAs MESFET-based devices. EOS susceptibility did not recover with annealing. The failure signatures suggest that the hard failure mechanisms caused by EOS following the application of low-level ESD stresses are dependent on the amplitude of the pre-ESD stress and that field failures may be caused by successive ESD and EOS stresses. The findings indicate the need for dual ESD and EOS protection in the GaAs MESFET component studied and suggest that the relationship between ESD and EOS susceptibility may need to be considered for other semiconductor technologies.

Index Terms—Electrical overstress (EOS), electrostatic discharge (ESD), gallium arsenide (GaAs), latent failure, microwave monolithic integrated circuit (MMIC), reliability.

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