Atomic displacement effects in single-event gate rupture

Matthew J. Beck, Blair R. Tuttle, Ronald D. Schrimpf, Daniel M. Fleetwood, Sokrates T. Pantelides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (SciVal)


Swift heavy ion (SHI) damage, including single-event gate rupture (SEGR), radiation-induced soft breakdown (RISB), and long-term reliability degradation (LTRD), plays an important role in limiting device lifetime and reliability. However, the atomic-scale physical origins of these phenomena have not been elucidated. In this work, we explain the underlying physical processes responsible for SHI-induced effects in oxides, providing a direct link between atomic motion and macroscopic electrical effects. SRIM 2008 calculations show that SHIs produce low-energy atomic recoils in ${\rm SiO}-{2}$. Using parameter-free quantum mechanical calculations, we probe the atomic-scale dynamics of the resulting low-energy atomic displacements. We show that low-energy displacements in ${\rm SiO}-{2}$ produce pockets containing high densities of network defects, and that these defects generate electronic states throughout the ${\rm SiO}-{2}$ band gap. These spatially correlated defect states represent a low-resistivity conducting pipe through ${\rm SiO}-{2}$ layers, and provide an atomistic mechanism for the formation of electrically-active damage that does not rely on thermal spike effects. In the case of SEGR, the conducting pipe allows energy stored on the gate capacitance to be discharged into the oxide, resulting in the permanent damage observed experimentally. The persistence of defects resulting from SHI-induced atomic displacements provides a physical explanation for percolation models of LTRD and RISB.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4723776
Pages (from-to)3025-3031
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received July 11, 2008; revised September 05, 2008. Current version published December 31, 2008. This work was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) MURI program. The calculations were conducted at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory MSRC.


  • Density functional theory
  • Displacement damage
  • Local melting
  • Single-event gate rupture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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