6.
012  Microelectronic Devices and Circuits
Lecture 12  Subthreshold MOSFET Operation  Outline
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MOSFET model: gradual channel approximation
iD
(Example: nMOS)
0
for (vGS VT)/ 0 vDS (cutoff)
K(vGS VT)2 /2
for 0 (vGS VT)/ vDS (saturation)
K(vGS VT vDS/2)vDS for 0 vDS (vGS VT)/ (linear)
with K (W/L)eCox*, VT = VFB 2pSi + [2Si qNA(2pSi vBS)]1/2/Cox*
and = 1 + [(Si qNA/2(2pSi vBS)]1/2 /Cox (frequently 1)
The factor : what it means physically
Subthreshold operation  qualitative explanation
Looking back at Lecture 10 (Subthreshold electron charge)
Operating an nchannel MOSFET as a lateral npn BJT
The subthreshold MOSFET gatecontrolled lateral BJT
Why we care and need to quantify these observations
Quantitative subthreshold modeling
iD,subthreshold((0)), then iD,st(vGS, vDS)
[with vBS = 0]
Stepping back and looking at the equations
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
Lecture 12  Slide 1
Final comments on
The Gradual Channel result ignoring and valid for v BS " 0, and v DS # 0 is:
iG (vGS ,v DS ,v BS ) = 0, iB (vGS ,v DS ,v BS ) = 0, and
0
iD (vGS ,v DS ,v BS ) =
K
2
[vGS " VT (v BS )]
2
#
v &
K $vGS " VT (v BS ) " DS ' v DS
%
2 (
for
!
for
[vGS " VT (v BS )] < 0 <v DS
0 < [vGS " VT (v BS )] <v DS
for
0 <v DS < [vGS " VT (v BS )]
with K )
W
*
*
e Cox
and Cox
) *ox t ox
L
We noted last lecture that these simple expressions without are easy to
remember, and refining them to include involves easy to remember
substitutions:
v DS " # v DS
L "#L
K "K #
!
What we haven't done yet is to look at itself, and ask what it means.
What is it physically?
1/xDT(VBS)
G
!
*
Cox + $Si qN A 2$Si 2% p&Si & v BS
ox
1
$SiqN A
ox/tox
" # 1+ *
=
*
Cox 2 2% p&Si & v BS
Cox
Si
Si/xDT
*
*
"Si x DT
"Si t ox
CDT
CDT
B
= 1+
= 1+
= 1+ * = *
"ox t ox
"ox x DT
Cox CGB
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
Lecture 12  Slide 2
Look back at Lec. 10.
Foil 7 from Lecture 10
MOS Capacitors: the gate charge as vGB is varied
qG* [coul/cm2]
"2
2Cox
vGB $ VFB ) (
#SiqN A %'
(
"
qG =
1+
$1**
"
'
Cox &
#SiqN A
)
"
qG" = Cox
(vGB # VT )
Inversion
Layer
Charge
+ qN AP X DT
qNAPXDT
Depletion
Region
Charge
VFB
"
qG" = Cox
(vGB # VFB )
The charge expressions:
"
, Cox
(vGB # VFB )
.
"2
. %SiqN A &
2Cox
vGB # VFB ) )
(
"
( 1+
qG (vGB ) = #1++
"
(
%SiqN A
. Cox '
*
. C " (v # V ) + qN X
/ ox GB
T
A DT
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
vGB [V]
VT
Accumulation
Layer Charge
"
Cox
#
for
vGB $ VFB
for
VFB $ vGB $ VT
!
VT $ vGB
for
$ox
t ox
Lecture 12  Slide 3
Foil 8 from Lecture 10
MOS Capacitors: How good is all this modeling?
How can we know?
Poisson's Equation in MOS
As we argued when starting, Jh and Je are zero in steady
state so the carrier populations are in equilibrium with
the potential barriers, (x), as they are in thermal
equilibrium, and we have:
n(x) = n ie q" (x ) kT
and
p(x) = n ie#q" (x ) kT
Once again this means we can find (x), and then n(x) and
p(x), by solving Poisson's equation:
! d 2" (x)
q
#q" (x )/ kT
q" (x )/ kT
=
#
n
e
#
e
+ N d (x) # N a (x)
(
)
i
2
dx
$
This version is only valid, however, when (x) p.
When (x) > p we have accumulation and inversion layers,
and we assume them to be infinitely thin sheets of charge,
i.e. we model them as delta functions.
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
Lecture 12  Slide 4
Foil 9 from Lecture 10
Poisson's Equation calculation of gate charge
Calculation compared with depletion approximation
model for tox = 3 nm and NA = 1018 cm3:
tox,eff 3.2 nm
tox,eff 3.3 nm
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
We'll look in this
vicinity today.
We've ignored
subthreshold
charge in our
MOSFET iv
modelling thus
far.
Lecture 12  Slide 5
Plot courtesy of Prof. Antoniadis
Foil 10 from Lecture 10
MOS Capacitors: Subthreshold charge
Assessing how much we are neglecting
Sheet density of electrons below threshold in weak inversion
In the depletion approximation for the MOS we say that the
charge due to the electrons is negligible before we reach
threshold and the strong inversion layer builds up:
*
qN (inversion ) (vGB ) = "Cox
(vGB " VT )
But how good an approximation is this? To see, we calculate
the electron charge below threshold (weak inversion):
qN (sub"threshold ) (vGB ) = " q
$ ne
x d ( vGB )
q# (x )/ kT
dx
(x) is a nonlinear function of x, making the integral difficult,
" (x) = " p +
!
qN A
2
x
x
( d)
2#Si
but if we use a linear approximation for (x) near x = 0,
where the term in the integral is largest, we can get a very
good approximate analytical expression for the integral.
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
Lecture 12  Slide 6
Foil 11 from Lecture 10
Subthreshold electron charge, cont.
We begin by saying
2qN A [" (0) % " p ]
d" (x)
" (x) # " (0) + ax where
=%
where a $
dx x= 0
&Si
With this linear approximation to (x) we can do the integral
and find
qN (sub"threshold ) (vGB ) # q
kT n(0)
kT
= "q
q a
q
$Si
n ie q% (0) kT
2qN A [% (0) " % p ]
To proceed it is easiest to evaluate this expression for various
values of (0) below threshold (when its value is p), and to
also find the corresponding value of vGB, from
vGB " VFB = # (0) " # p +
t ox
2$SiqN A [# (0) " # p ]
$ox
This has been done and is plotted along with the strong
inversion layer charge above threshold on the following foil.
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
Lecture 12  Slide 7
Foil 12 from Lecture 10
Subthreshold electron charge, cont.
6 mV
Neglecting this charge in the electrostatics calculation resulted in
only a 6 mV error in our estimate of the threshold voltage value.
Today we will look at its impact on the subthreshold drain current.
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
Lecture 12  Slide 8
MOSFETs: Conventional strong inversion operation,
VGS > VT
vGS > V T +G
S
n+
vDS > 0 D i
D
n+
pSi
vBS
+
B
High concentration of
electrons in a strong inversion
layer drifting to the drain
because of field due to v DS .
ntype surface channel; drift flux from source to drain
In our gradual channel approximation modeling we have assume a
high conductivity ntype channel has been induced under the gate.
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
Lecture 12  Slide 9
MOSFETs: Subthreshold operation, VGS <~ VT
vGS ~
< V T +G
S
n+
vDS > 0 D i
D
n+
pSi
A small number of electrons
surmount the barrier and
diffuse to drain.
vBS
+
B
The electrons diffuse and do not
feel v DS until they get to the
edge of the depletion region.
No surface channel; diffusion flux from source to drain when vDS > 0
For any vGB > VFB some electrons in the source can surmount the
barrier and diffuse to the drain. Though always small, this flux can
become consequential as vGS approaches VT.
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
Lecture 12  Slide 10
MOSFETs: Subthreshold operation, VGS <~ VT
What do we mean by "consequential"?
When is this current big enough to matter?
There are at least three places where it matters:
1. It can limit the gain of a MOSFET linear amplifier.
In Lecture 21 we will learn that we achieve maximum gain from
MOSFETs operating in strong inversion when we bias as close to
threshold as possible. This current limits how close we can get.
2. It is a major source of power dissipation and heating in
modern VLSI digital ICs.
When you have millions of MOSFETs on an IC chip, even a little bit
of current through the half that are supposed to be "off" can add up
to a lot of power dissipation. We'll see this in Lecture 16.
3. It can be used to make very low voltage, ultralow power
integrated circuits.
In Lecture 25 we'll talk about MIT/TI research on subthreshold
circuits with 0.3 V supplies and using W's of power.
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
Lecture 12  Slide 11
Subthreshold Operation of MOSFETs: finding iD
Begin by considering the device illustrated below:
G
tox
0
n+
n+
tn+
0
 Set vGS = VFB, and vDS = vBS = 0.
 The potential profile vs. y, (y) at any x between 0 and tn+ is then:
tox
0
vGS = VFB
n+
vDS = 0
n+
tn+
x
(y)
n+
vBS = 0
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
B
L
0
p
Lecture 12  Slide 12
Subthreshold Operation of MOSFETs, cont.
 Now consider (y) when vGS = VFB, vBS = 0. and vDS > 0:
tox S
0
vGS = VFB
vDS > 0
(y)
n++ vDS
n+
n+
vDS
n+
tn+
x
vBS = 0
0
B
L
 So far this is standard MOSFET operating procedure. We could
apply a positive voltage to the gate and when it was larger than VT
we would see the normal drain current that we modeled earlier.
Rather than do this, however, consider forward biasing the
substratesource diode junction, I.e, vBS > 0
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
Lecture 12  Slide 13
Subthreshold Operation of MOSFETs, cont.
 Apply vBS > 0, keep the same vDS > 0, and adjust vGS such that
the potential at the oxideSi interface, (0,y), equals p
+ vBS.
 Now consider (x,y):
vGS s.t. (0,y) = p + vBS
tox
S
Electron
Injection
and
Diffusion
n+
(y)
vDS > 0
n+
n+
tn+
x
n++ vDS
vBS > 0
0
B
L
vBS
p',n'
 With this biasing the structure is
being operated as a lateral BJT!
The drain/collector current is:
De
iD /C " W t n +qn i2
e qv BS / kT #1
N Ap Leff
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
p+ vBS
p
n'(0+) = npo(eqvBS/kT1)
 This is not subthreshold operation yet.
y
Lecture 12  Slide 14
Subthreshold Operation of MOSFETs, cont.
 Now again make vBS = 0, but keep the same vDS and vGS so that
the potential at the oxideSi interface, (0,y), is still > p.
 Now (x,y) is different for 0 < x < xD,
(0,y)
and xD < x < tn+:
n++ vDS
vGS s.t. (0,y) > p
G
vDS > 0
D
tox S
p n+
0
(x)
xD
Injection
n+
n+
tn+
x
(x)p
p
vBS = 0
0
B
L
 Now there is lateral BJT action
only along the interface.
 The drain current that flows in
this case is the subthreshold
drain current.
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
(y)
n++ vDS
n+
0
 This is subthreshold operation!
Lecture 12  Slide 15
Subthreshold Operation of MOSFETs, cont.
 The barrier at the n+p junction is lowered near the oxideSi
interface for any vGS > VFB.
 The barrier is lowered by (x)  p for 0 < x < xD.
Plot vs y
at xed x,
0 < x < xD.
(This is the effective vBE on the lateral BJT between x and x + dx.)
tox S
VFB < vGS < VT G
vDS > 0
(0,y)
D
n++ vDS
Injection
xD
n+
p
(x)
n+
tn+
x
vBS = 0
0
(x)
B
L

The barrier lowering
vGS
(effective forward bias)
(1) is controlled by vGS,
and (2) decreases
quickly with x.
vBE,eff(x)
= [(x) p]
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
n+
y
(x)p L
p
Plot vs x
at xed y,
0 < y < L.
 p
(0)
tox
xd
p
Injection occurs over this range.
Lecture 12  Slide 16
Subthreshold Operation of MOSFETs, cont.
 To calculate iD, we first find the current in each dx thick slab:
G
VFB < vGS < VT
vDS > 0
tox
0
x
x+dx
n+
n+
xD
vBS = 0
vDS > 0
y
n' ( x,0) = n i (e q" (x,vGS )/ kT #1) $ n ie q" (x,vGS )/ kT
diD (x) = q De
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
n' ( x,L) " n ie q# (x,vGD )/ kT
n'(x,0) " n'(x,L)
W
W dx #
De q n ie q$ (x,vGS )/ kT (1" e"qv DS )/ kT ) dx
L
L
Lecture 12  Slide 17
Subthreshold Operation of MOSFETs, cont.
 Then we add up all the contributions to get iD:
'
W $0
q" (x,vGS )/ kT
iD =
De & # q n ie
dx)(1* e*qv DS / kT )
L &% x d
)(
 This is what we called qN(subthreshold) in Lecture 9 and today on Foil 7.
Substituting the expression we found for this (see Foil 7), we have:
%
W
kT
iD(sub"threshold ) =
De 'q
L
'& q
!
(
#Si
n ie q $ (0,vGS ) kT *(1" e"qv DS / kT )
2qN A [$ (0,vGS ) " $ p ]
*)
 Using the Einstein relation and replacing ni with NAeqp/kT, we obtain:
2
#
&
W
kT
1
*
iD(sub"th ) = e Cox
% (
*
L
$ q ' 2Cox
2q)Si N A
q {* (0,vGS )"[ "* p ] }
e
[* (0,vGS ) " * p ]
kT
(1" e
"qv DS / kT
 To finish (we are almost done) we need to replace (0,vGS) with vGS
since we want the drain current's dependence on the terminal voltage.
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
Lecture 12  Slide 18
Subthreshold Operation of MOSFETs, cont.
 The relationship relating (0,vGS) and vGS is:
vGS = VFB
1
+ [" (0) # " p ] + * 2$SiqN A [" (0) # " p ]
Cox
 From this we can relate a change in vGS to a change in (0), which
is what we really need. To first order the two are linearly related:
"vGS
')
dvGS
1
#
"$ (0) = (1+
*
d$ (0)
)* 2Cox
+
2%SiqN A )
, "$ (0) . n "$ (0)
[$ (0) & $ p ] )"n
 In the current equation we have the quantity {(0,vGS)  [p]}.  p is
simply (0,VT), the potential at x = 0 when the gate voltage is VT, so
{" (0,v
GS
) # [#" p ]} = {" (0,vGS ) # " (0,VT )} = {vGS # VT } n
 Using this and the definition for n, we arrive at:
iD(sub"threshold ) #
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
W
*
e Cox
L
$ kT ' 2
q { vGS "VT } n kT
n
"1
e
1" e"qv DS / kT )
)
(
& ) (
% q(
Lecture 12  Slide 19
Subthreshold Operation of MOSFETs, cont.
 To fully complete our modeling, we must add two more points:
1. The dependences on vBS and vDS:
vBS: The threshold voltage depends on vBS. (0,VT) does also,
i.e. (0,VT) =  pvBS, and so do the junction barriers. Taking
this all into account we find that the only change we need to
make is to acknowledge that n and VT both depend on vBS.
vDS: The drain to source voltage introduced a factor (1  eqvDS/kT) 1.
This is discussed in the handout posted on Stellar.
The complete expression for iD is:
iD,s"t (vGS ,v DS ,v BS ) #
W
*
e Cox
L
$ kT ' 2
q { vGS "VT (v BS )} n kT
1" e"qv DS / kT )
(
& ) [ n(v BS ) "1] e
% q(
2. The factor n:
The value of n depends on (0,vGS). Notice, however, that the subthreshold current is largest as (0,vGS) approaches pvBS, so it
makes sense to evaluate it there and take that as its value for all
vGS:
&
* &
*
(
1
n " '1+
*
() 2Cox
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
2#SiqN A ( (
1
+  '1+ *
[$ (0) % $ p ] (, () Cox
(
#SiqN A
+
2[%2$ p % v BS ] (,
** Notice that this is exactly the same expression as that for !
Lecture 12  Slide 20
Subthreshold Operation of MOSFETs, cont.
 Comparing current levels above and below threshold:
The ranges of the two models do not overlap, but is it still
interesting to compare the largest possible value of the subthreshold drain current model (vGS  VT = 0 V),* with the strong
inversion model at vGS  VT = 0.06 V, 0.1 V, and 0.2 V:
iD(sub"threshold )
K
$ kT ' 2
q v "V
n kT
# & ) ( n "1) e { GS T }
% q(
(0.025)2
iD(strong inversion )
!
"
1
2
v
$
V
( GS T )
2#
0.4
0.25
(0.06)2
(0.1)2
(0.2)2
vBS = 0
= 1.56 x 104 V2
= 1.5 x 103 V2
= 4 x 103 V2
= 1.6 x 102 V2
We see that the current in strong inversion drift current quickly
becomes much larger, although only grows quadratically.
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
* This is pushing the model, particularly with regard to the
diffusion current model, beyond it's range of strict validity,
and is probably somewhat of an overestimate.
Lecture 12  Slide 21
Subthreshold Operation of MOSFETs, cont.
 Plotting our models for the earlier device: NA = 1018 cm3, tox = 3 nm:
vBS = 0
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
Lecture 12  Slide 22
Subthreshold Operation of MOSFETs, cont.
 Zooming into a lower current scale: NA = 1018 cm3, tox = 3 nm:
vBS = 0
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
Lecture 12  Slide 23
Subthreshold Operation of MOSFETs, cont.
 Repeating the plot with a log current scale: NA = 1018 cm3, tox = 3 nm:
Slope = 60 x n mV/decade*
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
* n = 1.25 here so 75 mV/decade
vBS = 0
Lecture 12  Slide 24
Subthreshold Output Characteristic
 We plot a family of iD vs vDS curves with (vGS  VT) as the family
variable, after first defining the subthreshold diode saturation
2
$
'
current, IS,st:
W
kT
*
2
IS,s"t # e Cox
& ) [ n "1] = K o Vt [ n "1]
L
% q(
kT
Note : Vt "
,
q
log iD,st
!
(vGSVT) = 0.12xn Volts
102 IS,st
(vGSVT) = 0.18xn Volts
103 IS,st
(vGSVT) = 0.24xn Volts
IS,st
vDS
iD,s"t (vGS ,v DS ) # IS,s"t e
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
W
*
e Cox
L
(vGSVT) = 0.06xn Volts
101 IS,st
!
104
Ko "
q { vGS "VT } n kT
"qv DS / kT
1"
e
(
)
Note: The device we modeled had n = 1.25, so it
follows a "75 mV rule" [i.e. 60 x n = 75].
vBS = 0
Lecture 12  Slide 25
Subthreshold Output Characteristic, cont.
 To compare this with something we've already seen, consider the
BJT and plot a family of iC vs vCE curves with vBE as the family
variable
log iC
vBE = 0.66 Volts
10+11 FIES
vBE = 0.60 Volts
10+10 FIES
10+9
10+8
vBE = 0.54 Volts
FIES
vBE = 0.48 Volts
FIES
vCE
iC (v BE ,vCE ) " # F IES e qv BE
kT
(1$ e
$qvCE / kT
 The two biggest differences are (1) the magnitudes of the IS's,
and (2) the factor of "n" in the MOSFET case. The totality of vBE
reduces the barrier, whereas only a fraction 1/n of vGS does.
!
 A third difference is that a BJT has a base current.*
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
Lecture 12  Slide 26
* This is the price paid for having n = 1 in a BJT.
Large Signal Model for MOSFET Operating Subthreshold
 The large signal model for a MOSFET operating in the weak
inversion or subthreshold region looks the same model as that
for a device operating in strong inversion (vGS > VT) EXCEPT
there is a different equation relating iD to vGS, vDS, and vBS:
We will limit our model to
vGS " VT , v DS > 3kT /q and v BS = 0.
D
!
iD
iD (vGS , vDS )
G
iG (= 0)
iG,s"t (vGS ,v DS ,v BS ) = 0
S,B
iD,s"t (vGS ,v DS ,0) # IS,s"t (1" $v DS ) e
!
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
Early effect
q { vGS "VTo } n kT
(1" e
"qv DS / kT
1 for vDS > 3 kT/q
Lecture 12  Slide 27
6.012  Microelectronic Devices and Circuits
Lecture 12  Subthreshold MOSFET Operation  Summary
Subthreshold operation  qualitative explanation
Look back at Lecture 10
(Subthreshold electron charge)
BJT action in depletion/weak inversion layer along oxide
the interface
MOSFET gatecontrolled lateral BJT
Important in/for
1. power dissipation in normallyoff logic gates
2. limiting the gain of strong inversion linear amplifiers
3. realizing ultralow power, very low voltage electronics
Quantitative subthreshold modeling
This gives us a precise description of the voltage dependence
It also gives us the information on IS,st and n we need for
device design
iD,s"t (vGS ,v DS ,v BS ) # IS,s"t e
with:
IS,s"t
Clif Fonstad, 10/22/09
2
$
'
W
kT
*
# e Cox
& ) [ n "1]
L
% q(
q { vGS "VT (v BS )} n kT
&(
1
and n " '1+ *
() Cox
"qv DS / kT
1"
e
(
)
*(
#SiqN A
+ =2[$2% p $ v BS ] (,
Lecture 12  Slide 28
MIT OpenCourseWare
http://ocw.mit.edu
6.012 Microelectronic Devices and Circuits
Fall 2009
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