Tag Archive ST

STMicroelectronics and Debiotech have introduced first evaluation prototypes of a disposable

Nanopump™ (Courtesy: Debiotech)

STMicroelectronics and Debiotech have introduced first evaluation prototypes of a disposable, SOI-MEMS based insulin-delivery Nanopump. It can be mounted on a skin patch to provide continuous insulin infusion for diabetes patients

Smaller Pixels, Brighter Pictures

ST’s 3-megapixel back-illuminated image sensor for digital cameras leverages SOI, direct wafer-level bonding and thinning technologies, improving 1.45 x 1.45 µm² pixel quantum efficiency over 60%.

To meet consumer demand for higher-quality digital cameras embedded in a widening array of mobile devices, designers need image sensors with very small pixels (higher resolution, smaller, cheaper and lower power) that maximize the available light.

In response, the image sensor industry is coming out with a new generation of back-illuminated CMOS image sensors. In contrast to the current generation of front-illuminated devices, the back-illumination scheme moves the electronics to the bottom of the stack, so the light enters the device unimpeded. While this enables high-quality pictures or video even under low light conditions and simplifies some aspects of the design (particularly of the metal layers), it also introduces cost-effective manufacturing challenges.

STMicroelectronics has demonstrated the feasibility of manufacturing 3-megapixel CMOS image sensors with a very small pitch (just 1.45µm x 1.45µm) in a back-illuminated design. We have attained a high quantum efficiency (QE) of >60%. The QE indicates the percentage of photons that are converted into electrons.

The back-illumination design starts with an SOI wafer. We evaluated several SOI thicknesses in order to find an optimal balance between QE and crosstalk.

Crosstalk quelled

In a back illumination scheme, you don’t have the problem of the electronics getting in the way of the light’s path; however, the electrons generated by the light still have to reach the photodiode. Different colored lights have different wavelength ranges; blue light for example, which has a short wavelength, is particularly tricky.

Figure 1. Thicker SOI layers are preferable: higher light absorption and higher QE.

The longer the photo-generated electrons have to travel, the greater the chance that they’ll diffuse into neighboring pixels, thereby increasing electrical crosstalk. A thicker SOI layer increases QE, but it also increases crosstalk – hence the need for finding the optimal balance. We have determined this balance in the context of a manufacturable product (see Figure 1)

Lowering dark current

Dark current is essentially leakage current that flows even when the device is not operating. It can really deteriorate image quality badly. As such, it is a challenge in all CMOS image sensors, whether you’re using front or back illumination. Dark current is linked to crystalline defects in the silicon. The quality of the wafer-bonding interface, especially between silicon and the oxide interface, is critical to diminishing dark current.
We have achieved a mean low dark current of 1e/s at 25°C due to dedicated frontside and backside process steps such as a p+ pinning layer and thermal treatment. Other parameters such as conversion gain, lag and temporal noise are comparable to state-of-the-art frontside image sensors.


In our back-illumination scheme, after the final metal layers are created, a passivation layer and subsequent wafer-bonding layer (WBL) are deposited. The WBL is planarized and a support wafer is bonded to the processed wafer, then thinned through a subsequent grind-back.

We have demonstrated the manufacturing feasibility, and are now concluding work related to further cross-talk reduction as well as color filter and micro-lens processing.

Image from a 3MP back-illuminated array with 1.45µm pixel pitch

With these image sensors embedded in the next generation of cell phone cameras, dark and fuzzy snapshots should soon be a thing of the past

Process flow

  • SOI wafer
  • CMOS image process
  • Wafer bonding layer (WBL) and preparation
  • Wafer bonding and backside grinding
  • Anti-reflective coating (ARC)
  • Pad opening
  • Color filters and micro-lens

Acknowledgements: Tracit Technologies for wafer bonding and thinning studies; the CEA-LETI process teams; and the STM front-end technology and manufacturing group.

Reference: “A 3 Mega-Pixel Back-illuminated Image Sensor in 1T5 Architecture with 1.45 μm Pixel Pitch.”, Francois Roy*, Perceval Coudrain*, Xavier Gagnard*, Josep Segura*, Yvon Cazaux*, Didier Herault*, Nicolas Virollet*, Norbert Moussy**, Benoit Giffard**, Pierre Gidon** (* FTM Imaging, STMicroelectronics, Crolles, France; ** CEA-LETI-MINATEC, Grenoble, France). 2007 International Image Sensor Workshop. Jens Prima

Member Contributions *

The SOI Industry Consortium website is a great place to find relevant SOI-related materials contributed by member companies and institutions. Here are some examples – go to the website to access the complete presentations.

– HM Read More

The Promise of High Resistivity SOI for Wireless Communications Systems

ST reports on highly integrated SRAM and RF on 300mm wafers. Yield matches bulk with improved FOM.

Wireless communications systems may soon replace personal computers as a key driver of volume manufacturing.

A full CMOS 65nm Partially Depleted Low Power (LP) SOI technology has been developed at STMicroelectronics on high resistivity (HR) ( 1kOhm-cm) 300mm SOI wafers provided by Soitec. This latest work is the first to prove that 300mm HR SOI can match bulk yield, with improved figures of merit (FOM) of both digital and RF circuits, for high-volume wireless applications Read More

A GaN Approach to Schottky Diodes

The G²REC program aims to create a new generation of energy-efficient power devices for high-volume applications over 250V.

The greater electronics industry has an urgent need for fast-switching, high-voltage, energy-efficient and cost-competitive rectifiers.

Rectifiers (which convert AC to DC) are comprised of diodes, components that ensure electricity flows in just one direction. For certain high-volume applications such as power factor correction (PFC) in computer server power supplies and motor control in large appliances, the diodes need to: switch on very fast at low voltage; handle high voltage spikes; and switch off very fast and completely. They also need to be cost-competitive and suited to high-volume production. Read More

Ultra-Thin Body & Box (UTB²) SOI

As we approach the end of the roadmap, single gate FD SOI devices with ultra-thin BOX could pre-empt the need for double gate devices.

It is well known that UTB (Ultra Thin Body) devices present improved electrostatic integrity. We were, however, among the first to report [1] on the importance of the BOX thickness with respect to the electrostatic integrity of SOI devices. The electrostatics of FD SOI devices (we’ll focus on DIBL — Drain Induced Barrier Lowering – a widely used figure of merit for MOSFETs) can be captured within the following simple equation [2]: Read More

STMicroelectronics recently delivered a 65-nm CMOS SoC design platform

STMicroelectronics recently delivered a 65-nm CMOS SoC design platform for development of next-generation products for low-power, wireless, networking, consumer, and high-speed applications. SOI extensions are at an advanced stage of development and will be available soon, the company said.

MEDEA+ T206: CMOS SOI for low power logic and RF wireless (CMOSSOI)

Ongoing since 2002, the MEDEA+ T206 CMOS SOI project is scheduled to finish up this September.

The objective is: “…to evaluate, design and manufacture a family of CMOS silicon-on- insulator (SOI) circuits for low-power portable, radio frequency (RF) wireless and high-speed applications to compete with more expensive CMOS and bipolar CMOS (BiCMOS) devices.”

The program, lead by STMicroelectronics, has over 25 partners. For more information, see www.medeaplus.org/web/downloads/profiles/T206_profile.pdf