Self-heating is a major performance and reliability problem for integrated circuits (ICs), which becomes more severe as IC technologies continue to shrink and chip complexity increases rapidly. Various thermal sensing methods have been reported for IC thermal management but are either too large in size, incompatible with IC technology, or require an additional large sensor network to function. Novel on-chip thermal sensing methods are therefore urgently needed to ensure reliability and performance of advanced ICs.
Prof. Albert Wang and his colleagues from the University of California, Riverside have developed a novel in-hole PN diode thermal sensor that can be readily made in commercial IC production processes. The technology is advantageous over current thermal sensors because the in-hole diode is designed to take up a minimal amount of space while it ensures high-resolution thermal sensing. With the new concept validated experimentally, the new in-hole diode sensor can be a potential solution to achieving full-chip dynamic thermal mapping with a fine spatial resolution for accurate real-time chip-scale thermal management for future ICs.
Fig 1: TCAD simulation shows desired I-V-T behaviors for the new in-hole diode thermal sensor across a wide temperature range.