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Long term ElectroMagnetic Robustness of nanoscale Integrated Circuits – EMRIC

Submission summary

With the continuous trend towards nanoscale technology and increased integration of complex electronic functions in embedded systems, ensuring the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) of electronic systems is a great challenge. In the past 10 years, concerns about electromagnetic compatibility have risen in importance as low emissions and high immunity to interference have emerged as key differentiators in overall IC performance. Advances in process integration, higher switching speeds, and more complex circuits tend to increase the amount of parasitic emissions generated by ICs. Reduced supply voltages and an increased number of interfaces tend to decrease the immunity to radio-frequency interference. EMC has become a major cause of IC redesign, mainly due to inadequate design methods and lack of expertise in parasitic noise reduction and immunity improvement. Introducing a new high performance electronic module in automotive and aeronautic application forces system manufacturers to optimize system reliability and reduce time to market delivery and manufacturing costs. This trend has triggered off an increasing demand for conclusive statements about future lifetime and function of the product already at the design stage, ranging from electro-magnetic effects (EMC/RF) to thermal management issues and thermo-mechanical reliability forecasts. Thereby the boundary conditions imposed by automotive applications such as higher environmental temperatures, a broad spectrum of vibrations as well as the general trend to smaller structures and interconnects along with a higher power density have to be taken into account. In this context, a new request from electronic equipment suppliers aiming at ensuring the electromagnetic robustness (EMR) of embedded systems appeared recently [Pfaff 2005]. The last ten years of research conducted in our laboratory LATTIS at INSA Toulouse have been dedicated to enhance microcontroller electromagnetic compatibility, in relation with aeronautic and automotive embedded applications. In partnership with ST-microelectronics and EADS (European project MEDEA+ 'Mesdie' 2002-2005), dedicated design guidelines have been proposed to reduce significantly (-15 dB) both the parasitic emission [Vrignon 2005] and susceptibility of integrated circuits (IC) to radio frequency interferences in the range of 1 MHz to 3 GHz [Alaeldine 2007]. Since nearly 10 years, we have developed a strong relationship with Freescale semiconductors Toulouse (previously Motorola) through 4 PHDs management. A Freescale engineers (C. Lochot and then B. Vrignon) worked part time in our laboratory to collaborate on EMC design guidelines development, advanced measurement techniques set up and international standard contribution [ICEM]. From this collaboration, more than 20 world-class joint publications (book, transaction, major conference) have been written. Mid 2007, a new project aiming at ensuring the electromagnetic robustness of nanoscale integrated circuits has been initiated by a National French Agency (CNES) request. This new concept (Electromagnetic robustness) is an extension of the electromagnetic compatibility for the full lifetime of the product (fig. 1). This project became rapidly a new research topic of our laboratory. The need to predict EMC of ICs after several years of operating life is driven by the trend towards extended warranty. We have been in contact with semiconductors founders (Freescale semiconductors, ST-Microelectronics, Infineon), automotive equipment suppliers (Valeo) and electrical industry (EDF) to demonstrate and evaluate the effects of component ageing on their electromagnetic behaviour ever since. Some case studies provided by Freescale and ST Microelectronics have demonstrated the negative impact of life time on the components electromagnetic behaviour. This research activity was supported by the two founders on material aspects (they provided integrated circuit to make a first observation of the phenomenon). This new scientific topic aims at clarifying the link between ageing induced IC degradations and related EMC drifts, developing prediction models and proposing 'time insensitive' EMC protection structures, in order to provide methods and guidelines to IC and equipment designers to ensure EMC during lifetime of their applications. This research topic is still under-explored as research communities on 'IC reliability' and 'IC electromagnetic compatibility' have often no overlap.

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The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

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