Effect of Joule heating and current crowding on electromigration in mobile technology

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Original languageEnglish
Article number011101
Journal / PublicationApplied Physics Reviews
Issue number1
Online published20 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


In the present era of big data and internet of things, the use of microelectronic products in all aspects of our life is manifested by the ubiquitous presence of mobile devices as i-phones and wearable i-products. These devices are facing the need for higher power and greater functionality applications such as in i-health, yet they are limited by physical size. At the moment, software (Apps) is much ahead of hardware in mobile technology. To advance hardware, the end of Moore's law in two-dimensional integrated circuits can be extended by three-dimensional integrated circuits (3D ICs). The concept of 3D ICs has been with us for more than ten years. The challenge in 3D IC technology is dense packing by using both vertical and horizontal interconnections. Mass production of 3D IC devices is behind schedule due to cost because of low yield and uncertain reliability. Joule heating is serious in a dense structure because of heat generation and dissipation. A change of reliability paradigm has advanced from failure at a specific circuit component to failure at a system level weak-link. Currently, the electronic industry is introducing 3D IC devices in mainframe computers, where cost is not an issue, for the purpose of collecting field data of failure, especially the effect of Joule heating and current crowding on electromigration. This review will concentrate on the positive feedback between Joule heating and electromigration, resulting in an accelerated system level weak-link failure. A new driving force of electromigration, the electric potential gradient force due to current crowding, will be reviewed critically. The induced failure tends to occur in the low current density region.