With the scaling down process of microcircuits in semiconductor devices, the density of electric current in interconnecting metal lines increases, and the temperature of the device itself rises. Electromigration is a phenomenon that metallic atoms constructing the line are transported by electron wind. The damage induced by electromigration appears as the formation of voids and hillocks. The growth of voids in the metal lines ultimately results in electrical discontinuity. Our research group has attempted to identify a governing parameter for electromigration damage in metal lines, in order to clarify the electromigration failure and to contribute to circuit design. The governing parameter is formulated based on the divergence of the atomic flux by electromigration, and is denoted by AFD. The prediction method for the electromigration failure has been developed by using AFD. The AFD-based method makes it possible to predict the lifetime and failure site in universal and accurate way. In the actual devices, the metal lines used in the integrated circuit products are covered with a passivation layer, and the ends of the line are connected with large pads or vias for current input and output. Also, the microstructure of metal line distinguishes the so-called bamboo structured line from polycrystalline line depending on the size of metallic grains relative to the line width. Considering the damage mechanisms depending on such line structure, our research group has made a series of studies on the development of the prediction method. This article is dedicated to make a survey of some recent achievements for realizing a reliable circuit design against electromigration failure.
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