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5, MAY 2004
Modeling Spiral Inductors in SOS Processes
William B. Kuhn, Senior Member, IEEE, Xin He, Student Member, IEEE, and Mohammad Mojarradi, Member, IEEE
Abstract—Existing models for simulating spiral inductors fabricated in Silicon processes are outgrowths of the PI structure originally employed by Nguyen and Meyer. This structure and its subsequent elaborations work well for inductors in which the dominant loss mechanism is the underlying substrate. For newer processes with very high resistivity or insulating substrates such as Silicon-on-sapphire however, the model breaks down since inductor quality factor Q is then determined predominantly by series trace resistance. Models suitable for use in such processes are proposed and compared with measured data. The new models contain only four to six elements and, unlike the classic PI model, provide a broadband match to measured impedance behavior in both differentially driven and single-ended circuit applications. Index Terms—Eddy currents, inductors, modeling, silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology, SPICE.
Fig. 1. Classic PI-type spiral inductor models.
N 1990, Nguyen and Meyer  were among the first to suggest practical applications for spiral inductors in Silicon processes and to provide an equivalent circuit for SPICE-type simulation. Their original six-element PI model in Fig. 1(a) reasonably approximated all major performance parameters, including low frequency inductance and trace resistance, self-resonant frequency (SRF), and quality factor (Q) versus frequency. Since this circuit was introduced, the PI structure has remained the basis for virtually all subsequent models, although additional elements have been added as inductors have been examined and understood in greater detail –. The now pervasive nine-element circuit of Fig. 1(b) adds a capacitance to account for complex permittivity in the substrate and a shunt capacitance to improve SRF modeling. Subsequent models have added elements to emulate eddy-current losses within the substrate – and skin effect and/or current crowding –, and may contain up to 22 elements . In this paper, we propose simplified models for advanced integrated circuit (IC) processes aimed at radio frequency IC (RFIC) design. These processes offer very high resistivity substrates in an effort to reduce or eliminate substrate losses. When substrate losses are reduced to negligible values, it becomes appropriate to consider a departure from the classic PI structure. We show how inductor performance can then be competently represented with either a simple three-element
frequency-dependent model, or with four, five, or six-element SPICE-compatible models. Development of the frequency dependent model provides a direct representation of Q-limiting effects while the SPICE-compatible models allow simulation with a large base of design tools. In contrast to using raw S-parameters directly in simulation (when permitted by a tool), the models offer a circuit-level view that is useful to an engineer during the design phase. The models have been validated against measured results from a large array of inductors in Silicon-on-sapphire (SOS) where Q is limited only by dc series resistance and skin-effect/current-crowding mechanisms. Representative results are presented, together with a comparison between the new models and the classic PI structure. II. SPIRAL INDUCTOR LOSS MECHANISMS AND Q Arguably, one of the most important performance parameters of a spiral inductor is its quality factor Q. This parameter can affect a host circuit’s bandwidth, phase noise, noise figure, power efficiency, etc., and should be accurately represented at all frequencies for a model to be of general use. By defining Q in terms of power dissipation (Peak Energy Stored) Energy Lost Per Cycle (1)
it can be shown that when multiple independent losses are present, the net inductor Q can be expressed as (2) where represents the quality factor that would be obtained if only the i loss mechanism was present. From (2), it is clear is significantly lower than the others, it will that when one dominate as well as upperbound the overall inductor Q. As illustrated in Fig. 2, an inductor fabricated in a typical CMOS process is limited by several loss mechanisms and their respective Qs, including: losses from displacement currents conducted 1) and through the trace-to-substrate capacitances ), underlying resistive substrate (leading to
Manuscript received October 22, 2003; revised February 6, 2004. This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant ECS9875770, and by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The review of this paper was arranged by Editor J. N. Burghartz. W. B. Kuhn and X. He are with Kansas State University, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Manhattan, KS 66506-5204 USA. M. Mojarradi is with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125 USA. Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TED.2004.826868
0018-9383/04$20.00 © 2004 IEEE
4. the effective is known to increase dramatresistance of the spiral’s traces ically with frequency –. it is very useful for finding inductor Q. Fig. and model the low frequency inductance and self-resonance effects. losses leading to can be largely or totally eliminated. Above resistance builds quadratically initially. and converting back to impedance. 3. With the introduction of silicon-oninsulator (SOI) processes with very high resistivity substrates and SOS with an insulating substrate.02 bulk-resistivity and around 8 to 12 in processes with 10 to 20 non-epi-substrates . most inductors have been primarily limited by and/or . 3 was fit to measured data from a large array of inductors fabricated in a SOS process (Fig. subtracting off the admittance of . NO. to verify the predicted behavior of . A representative result is shown in Fig. with resulting maxvalues cm substrate of around 3 in epi-processes with 0. 4). which unfortunately lowers the Q and makes the model unsuitable for use with circuit simulators. and then slows its rate . FREQUENCY DEPENDENT THREE-ELEMENT MODEL A simple three-element model for inductors in which dominates is shown in Fig. together with the circuit elements of the PI model used to simulate them. assumption and To test the validity of the constant . current crowding typically dominates and exhibits a behavior given by  (3) Fig. At . III. Fig. 3) Find becomes 4) Find SRF from the frequency where negative. from and SRF. MAY 2004 are determined mainly by the spiral’s geomWhile and etry and should be relatively constant parameters. roughly speaking. which lack a frequency dependent resistance element. 2) losses in the substrate from eddy currents circulating below the spiral turns due to the inductor’s mag). In the literature. 1) Convert measured S-parameter data into impedance . Simplified three-element model.678 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ELECTRON DEVICES. This increase derives from current crowding. Note that the final from curve with removed is flat. 3 can indeed be constant in the model. ACTUAL VERSUS APPARENT Q While the frequency dependent nature of the three-element model makes it problematic for simulation. 2. restricts the effective width of the trace. 1(b) with the six substrate-related elements removed. and from skin effect which restricts its thickness. Cross-sectional view of inductor in typical Si process. termines the frequency at which the increase begins. where is the low-frequency resistance value and de. VOL. an inductor’s Q is most often plotted as the simple ratio (4) . shows the expected quadratic increase predicted by the theory of current crowding. At frequencies below 2 GHz. which. Here. while models resistive losses in the metal traces that form the spiral itself. 250-um. indicating that both and in Fig. as and 7) Plot the real and imaginary parts of . classic skin-effect theory alone predicts an increase beginning above about 2 GHz (depending proportional to on trace thickness). 3) To date. R and L values both before and effects are displayed to emphasize after subtracting out the difference between their apparent and actual values found and respectively. by converting to . IV. the model of Fig. Spiral inductor array in SOS used for model development/validation. eight-turn spiral. A good starting point for such a model is the PI circuit of Fig. values found from . 51. 5. The fitting was performed using the following procedure. 2) Plot apparent inductance from the low frequency value of . the resistance rises to 110 percent of its dc value. of increase to approximately linear at a frequency In contrast. A model that represents metal losses alone is then desired. and netic field (leading to losses in the metal traces (leading to ). 5) Compute of the series-connected 6) Find the impedance components . 5 for a 14-nH. 3.
Here. connected components in Fig. The impedance of the . . . we find nH. From measured data such as that in Fig. this leads to at self-resonance. and model current-crowding losses within the Here. selecting (9) and (10) (11) and esFor the previously discussed inductor with timated as MHz and GHz . Using the model of Fig. when used in a bandpass filter operating near the inductor’s SRF. from (6). the observed increase in effective series seriesresistance with frequency. we need to determine . and (8) is defined as the for the desired component values. at . 6. 8. and . matching the basic first-order behavior of current crowding described in . we solve (7) Fig. Note that the actual-Q . we must fix one value arbitrarily. this apparent. 5. in contrast to values close to zero predicted by (4). the actual-Q (energy storage-based) can be easily found from the frequency dependent values as (5) An example result derived from the data in Fig. 5 is shown in Fig. metal traces. V. 3 must be eliminated. FREQUENCY INDEPENDENT FIVE-ELEMENT MODEL To develop a model suitable for use in SPICE-like circuit simulators. we find example. Actual– versus apparent-Q of 14-nH. this can be done by borrowing from a technique used to simulate eddy-current losses in the substrate – consisting of a coupled LR loop as illustrated in Fig. and hence.Q from (4) leads to incorrect host-circuit performance predictions in some applications.KUHN et al. When taken at face value. Note that the actual. 5. which is inconsistent with (1) since the inductor is still storing and exchanging energy with its built-in capacitance. Resistance and inductance from measurements of 14-nH spiral before and after removing effects of C . the frequency dependent resistance element in Fig. 7. whereas the actual bandwidth obtained may be much less. Then. 3 however. 7 is modified to  (6) which shows a quadratically increasing real part up to a relaxation frequency Rc/Lc. and with (to provide some physical significance since the total area in the eddy-loops is smaller than the total inductor area). Plots of Q and R computed from (4) and (5) both show good agreement with measured results from dc up through the inductor’s SRF of 5. Frequency independent five-element model.5 GHz. For example. For with as a constant. Since there are 3 unknowns real part of and only two constraints. 7. A comparison between the resulting lumped element model and measured results is shown in Fig. 6. a low (or zero) Q would predict a wide (infinite) bandwidth. we can estimate where the resistance rises to 110 perthe critical frequency cent of its dc value and the frequency where the quadratic increase slows. Fig. Unfortunately. To fit this model to the quadratic increase in R suggested by (3). 250-um inductor.Q near resonance exceeds 12. and the mutual inductance (or coupling-coefficient ).: MODELING SPIRAL INDUCTORS IN SOS PROCESSES 679 Fig. Following .
7 provides good agreement with measured results. The nearly equivalent model shown in Fig. two inductors are employed with one end of each inductor ac grounded. very small errors in measured reflection coefficient can lead to such variations even after careful network analyzer calibration. curves are more sensitive to measurement system and/or modeling errors than the typically used apparent-Q curves. together with the simplified four-element model discussed above. VOL. with 100 fF to several picofarads giving similar results. ). and is also helpful in comparing results to the classic PI structure. VII. while for the PI model. 9 is easier to work with in hand analysis of RF circuits. 9 with the classic PI models of Fig. To examine the suitability of each model for simulating RFIC circuits. Fig. 12(a) a single tank inductor is operated in a differential mode while in Fig. together with the impedance found directly from a measured S-parameter two-port element with 220 fF shunt. and so that (13) Equation (13) shows the desired quadratic increase in R with frequency and can be fit to measured data by setting the middle at the critical frequency. 1. The value of cuit is found to be noncritical. 51. Simplified four-element model. SIMPLIFIED FREQUENCY-INDEPENDENT FOUR-ELEMENT MODEL The five-element model of Fig. This ground connection can. 13 plots the tank-circuit impedance (14-nH inductor in parallel with 220 fF) predicted by the models of Fig. Similarly. Q. (excluding ) is parallel with Fig. This in turn leads to incorrect assessment (12) which can be simplified by noting that for high Q inductors (e.1 (14) k and For the sample inductor. 12(b). yielding term equal to 0. as equal to the single in the PI cirwould be expected from theory. Comparison of measured results versus five-element model impedance. MAY 2004 Fig. components in For this model. However. Fig.g. As an example. This is basically due to shorting out of on one side of the model. leading to a decrease in shunt resistance and hence. but can be simplified in the case where measured R increases only quadratically over the frequency range of interest. This peaking is believed to be from measurement system limitations. the new model provides a reasonably accurate fit to the two-port S-parameter-based simulation result. 11 shows a PI model fit to the sample inductor. 5. significantly degrade the model’s accuracy. 12 are considered. the PI model contains a ground connection that has no physical basis when applied to SOI processes with very high resistivity substrates. both represent self-resonance behavior using shunt capacitance.680 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ELECTRON DEVICES.. 11 for each configuration. 1The peaking near 4 GHz in the actual-Q curve is more noticable than in the apparent-Q curve. the impedance of LC tanks in the oscillator designs of Fig. 8 with the exception of slightly lower values of Q at higher frequencies. NO. in some cases.1 VI. First. we note both similarities and differences. the resulting value is the model fit is illustrated in Fig. Note that the curves are nearly identical to those in Fig. 8. both effectively model the decrease in Q at high frequencies (relative to an ideal inductor with the same dc resistance) using shunt resistance. At large Q. In both cases. 9. the tank circuit resistance and bandwidth are incorrect for the application where one side of the inductor is ac and grounded. In Fig. 10. providing a better check on behavior near SRF. COMPARISON WITH CLASSIC PI MODEL Comparing the simplified four-element model of Fig. . the impedance of the . Comparing the circuits we note that the series combination of the two substrate resistors in the PI model is element of the four-element model.
11. AN IMPROVED HIGHER-ORDER MODEL Although the results in Figs. 600-um. of oscillator phase-noise performance and of the negative resistance required in the design. 14. fF. As previously noted. 1(a). together with curves from the measured data and a curve from the simpler four-element model. Typical application circuits. pH. higher performance spirals in the test array of Fig. 4 was found to be difficult.2-nH. . The results from the six-element model were achieved using MHz and GHz in (9) through (11) to create the initial observed rise in resistance and an value chosen for best fit to R and Q behavior above 3 GHz. Final values were nH. 1(b) offers relative to the original seven-element Nguyen and Meyer design in Fig. 15. PI model and simplified four-element model of 14 nH example inductor. 11(a) to 8 k. Comparison of measured results with four-element model. Fig. 12. 1. matching the behavior of physically larger. 7 and 9 to form the six-element model shown in Fig. the resulting PI model would ifying then only be appropriate for use in the single-ended mode—a difficulty that the new models do not share. For example. 2Another possibility would be to create multiple eddy loops as suggested by equations in . 10. . or 3 to 6 GHz. but not over the full dc to 6-GHz frequency range. Fig. when applied to a spiral.2 This combination is motivated by the observation that and can handle the low-frequency current-crowding behavior while the addition of can then emulate the combined crowding and skin-effect behavior at higher frequencies.25-turn spiral in SOS are shown in Fig. VIII. . The solution to this problem is to introduce additional degrees of freedom by adding circuit elements to the model. (a) Differentially driven LC tank. While the problem illustrated here could be “fixed” by modin Fig. Representative results for a 2. An obvious extension of the models presented so far in this paper is to combine the topologies of Figs. 10. 8.KUHN et al. and 13 show a good model fit for the 250-um example inductor. This is essentially what the nine-element model of Fig. and k . this is a consequence of the ground node within the PI structure which has no physical basis when substrate losses are eliminated. (b) Single-ended LC tank.: MODELING SPIRAL INDUCTORS IN SOS PROCESSES 681 Fig. the five-element model would 600-um high-Q match well over dc to 3 GHz. .
Copeland. J. IX. and J. Weisshaar. These models work well in both differential and single-ended applications. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION To date. 2001. Burghartz and B. K.  J. 305–308. NO. Fig. RF circuit designers have used various elaborations of the PI model of Nguyen and Meyer to simulate circuits employing spiral inductors. Yanduru. Comparison of measured values to simulation using five. RAWCON. Mar. VOL. “Si IC-compatible inductors and LC passive filters. vol. Rejaei. 560–568. vol.” IEEE Trans. Holden at Peregrine Semiconductor for access to the experimental inductor array. 2002. “Physical modeling of spiral inductors on silicon. J. They both accurately model the quadratic increase in . 718–729. L. modeling current crowding below 2 GHz and combined crowding plus skin effect through 6 GHz. RAWCON. vol. 1998. D. resistance versus frequency from current crowding while the five-element version offers the ability to fit to cases where this increase slows to linear above a limiting frequency. vol. 9–12. “An improved lumped-element equivalent circuit for on silicon integrated inductors. “A 1. Craninckx and M. N. but are less accurate for inductors created in newer RF-compatible processes with very high-resistivity bulk material such as SOS. 357–369. 13. 301–304. vol. 47. Steyaert. 1028–1031. 25. pp. (a) Differentially driven. B.and six-element models for larger 600-um high-performance spiral in SOS. Perregrini. 600 um.  J. Aug. 5.g. 23.. Electron Devices. G. (b) Single-ended. K. Pichler. A. “A physical frequency-dependent compact model for RF integrated inductors. pp.” IEEE J. 273–275. P. M. Jan. Jan.” IEEE Trans. “A new wideband compact model for spiral inductors in RFICs. Hwang. “Spiral inductor substrate loss modeling in silicon RF ICs.. Kelly. Nobbe. S. 32. May 2002. “Analysis of current crowding effects in multiturn spiral inductors. vol. These models serve well for inductors in which the primary loss mechanism is the substrate. and design of monolithic inductors for silicon RF ICs. N. unlike the classic PI circuit. pp. 9–12. S. REFERENCES  N. While validation of the new models in other SOI processes with very high resistivity but noninsulating substrates is still needed. Kuhn and N.  P.  J. the models can be expected to perform well. pp. high-Q spirals (e. May 1997. pp. A. Melendy. 44. and F. and K. 1996. Microwave Theory Tech. and for helpful comparisons with models published to date.. Nguyen and R. Soyuer. Solid-State Circuits. “Microwave inductors and capacitors in standard multilevel interconnect silicon technology. vol. Jenkins.  D.  J. 2003.  J. Mar. Mar. P. characterization. Svelto. Lopez-Villegas. vol. Samitier. 49. R. since they do not artificially introduce a ground node. pp.” IEEE J. Electron Devices. MAY 2004 Fig. Sieiro. C. R.” IEEE Trans.” IEEE J. pp. Castello.  W. 384–392. Francis.  C. Microwave Theory Tech. “On the design of RF spiral inductors on silicon. 1997. 50.8-GHz low-phase-noise CMOS VCO using optimized hollow spiral inductors. Arcioni. 51. Long and M. Kuhn and N. M.and five-element frequency independent models of Fig. Simulated impedances from models versus measured S-parameter result.” in Proc. to the extent that substrate loss is reduced to negligible values relative to trace resistance loss. The simple four. E. pp. vol. Aug. the six-element larger. Jan. Ibrahim. ACKNOWLEDGMENT The authors would like to thank D. For ). Aug. Fig. and A. model of Fig.. B. Osorio. 14 has been found to perform well. Srinivasan. Solid-State Circuits.” in Proc. Solid-State Circuits. 1998. pp. 15. Cabanillas. and J. pp. “The modeling. 14.” IEEE Electron Device Lett. 100–104. 7 and 9 provide a good fit to measured data taken from small-to-moderate sized ( 300 um) inductors fabricated in SOS.” IEEE Trans.682 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ELECTRON DEVICES. pp.” IEEE Trans. Meyer. 1990. Improved six-element model. 50. G. Wong. Yue and S. M. Microwave Theory Tech. Sacchi. Burghartz.  W. A. 736–744. J. M. 31–38. 2000. J. 32.
Shin. Hefei. B. Sept. where he is currently pursuing the Ph. CA. Blacksburg. Kuhn is a recipient of a Bradley Fellowship in 1993 from Virginia Tech and a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation in 1999. R. Wachnik. “Global performance evaluation of various on-chip square spiral inductors on GaAs substrates.E. later becoming an Associate Professor in 2000. he was an Associate Professor at Washington State University.. “A simple wide-band on-chip inductor model for silicon-based RF ICs. W. Palo Alto. His current work focuses on developing highly efficient integrated mixed-signal electronics for sensors. and the Eta Kappa Nu distinguished faculty award in 2002 and 2003. Gan. 51–56.D. CA. vol. Microwave Theory Tech. and the Manager of the mixed-voltage/specialty integrated circuit group at the Xerox Microelectronics Center. P. pp. Ooi.D.” IEEE Trans. “An improved prediction of series resistance in spiral inductor modeling with eddy-current effect. J. He teaches courses in communications theory. 51. the M. Ooi. Groves. He received the M. William B. Circuits.S. Kuhn (S’78–M’79–SM’98) received the B.: MODELING SPIRAL INDUCTORS IN SOS PROCESSES 683  B. Microwave Theory Tech. degrees in instrumentation in 1997 and 2000 respectively. Feb. including frequency synthesizers and bit synchronizers. and M. L. radio and microwave circuit/system design. and C. high-efficiency power amplifiers. Li. Xin He (S’04) received the B. R. degree. Zamdmer.  W. he was with the Georgia Tech Research Institute. vol. and the Ph.” Proc.-X. degree from Virginia Tech.-J. Lin. 419–426. 2003. 2023–2028. in 2002. SOI. Solid-State Circuits.” IEEE Trans.KUHN et al. D. 1. Atlanta. X. 50. he was with Ford Aerospace and Communications Corporation. and power management and distribution systems (PMAD) for avionics system on a chip for deep space using the SOI CMOS process. and B. Y. Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1986.S. T. He has more than 20 years of combined industrial and academic experience in his field. degree in electrical engineering from the University of California. 2003. in 1996.-S. Cao. He is also the recipient of the KSU Hollis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2001. PLLs. He is a Specialist in integrated mixed-signal/mixed-voltage electronic sensors.  J.D. Mar. pp. working primarily in radar signal analysis and mixed-signal circuit simulator development. and F. From 1983 to 1992. from the University of Science and Technology of China. Yin. as an Assistant Professor. and VLSI. From 1979 to 1981. Pan. 2003. D. and modeling of spiral inductors and varactors in SOI processes. “Frequency-independent equivalentcircuit model for on-chip spiral inductors. His research is primarily targeted at low-power radio electronics in CMOS. Y. A. Huang.-L. Kooi. Gil and H. Hu. Pasadena. Mohammad Mojarradi (M’92) received the Ph. In 1996. N. no. China. S. Pullman. A. King. CA.. Manhattan. degree in electrical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.S. in 1982. 38. Devices. Atlanta. vol. and Systems. micromachined interface circuits. 2002. Manhattan.” IEEE J. . 150. Plouchart. in 1979.S. actuators. he joined Kansas State University (KSU). degree in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. degree in electrical engineering from the Kansas State University. where he designed radio receiver equipment. and GaAs technologies. L. His research interests include RF filter design. Sept. vol. 2202–2206.-O. Xu. J. Prior to joining Jet Propulsion Laboratory.. pp. Dr. El Segundo.  Y. and mixed-mode integrated circuit design. pp.
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