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Two different on-chip power-rail electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection circuits, (1) with NMOS and PMOS feedback; and (2) with cascaded PMOS feedback, have been designed and fabricated in a 0.18 mum CMOS technology to investigate their susceptibility to system-level ESD test. The main purpose for adopting the feedback loop into the power-rail ESD clamp circuits is to avoid the false triggering during a fast power-up operation. However, during the system-level ESD test, where the ICs in a microelectronics system have been powered up, the feedback loop used in the power-rail ESD clamp circuit provides the lock function to keep the main ESD device in a "latch-on" state. The latch-on ESD device, which is often designed with a larger device dimension to sustain high ESD level, conducts a huge current between the power lines to perform a latchup-like failure after the system-level ESD test. The susceptibility of power-rail ESD clamp circuits with the additional board-level noise filter to the system-level ESD test is also investigated. To meet high system-level ESD specifications, the chip-level ESD protection design should be considered with the transient noise during system-level ESD stress.
Date of Conference: 9-13 July 2007