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Semiconductor Parametric Characterization Basic Training - Part 1
  • Courses
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Learn about the basics of semiconductor parametric testing focusing on device and process parameters rather than testing functional products.


  • Source/Measure Units (SMUs) for Parametric 
  • Test Tips for Making Accurate Low-Level Measurements 
  • Keysight B2900B/BL SMU, E5207B I/V Analyzer, B1500A Semiconductor Device Analyzer, B1506A Power Device Analyzer for Circuit Deisgn
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The Parametric Measurement

Application Notes

The Parametric Measurement


“An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes, which can be made, in a very narrow field” — Niels Bohr 

It has been seven years since we published the first edition of this handbook, and in the interim many things have changed. Fully recovered from the shock (in 1999) of transitioning from Hewlett-Packard to Agilent Technologies, in 2014 we once again changed names as the electronic test and measurement portion of Agilent became Keysight Technologies (“unlocking measurement insights”). Despite our two name changes, Keysight remains true to its roots as HP’s original business. We continue to work at supplying our customers with the best electronic test solutions available. 

If you have an earlier version of this handbook, then you probably want to know: What is new? The main thing you will notice about this edition versus earlier ones is the addition of an entirely new chapter (chapter 9) devoted to the power device test. This was necessary as Keysight has come out with many new solutions to test power devices since the handbook was first published. Also, power device testing is a complex enough task that warrants having a chapter devoted exclusively to it. The other changes have been interwoven into existing chapters, and they include updated information on enhancements to existing products as well as information on some of our newer products. 

Many people helped with the content and review of this updated handbook, but in particular, I would like to acknowledge the contributions of Yasushi Okawa for his many excellent presentations and training materials on power device tests. Without those chapter 9 would have been much more difficult to write. Also, thanks go to Helen Amato, Biow-Huei Sim, and Gwen Soo for their extensive work to update the handbook layout and images. Overall I think that there is enough new content in this edition to enable engineers and researchers to make accurate parametric measurements on low and high power devices both now and for many years into the future.

Table of Contents:


  • Chapter 1 – Keysight Technologies’ Parametric Measurement Solutions
    • What is a parametric test
    • Why is parametric testing performed?
    • Where is parametric testing done?
    • Parametric Instrument history
  • Chapter 2 – Parametric Measurement Basics
    • Measurement terminology
    • Shielding and guarding
    • Kelvin (4-wire) measurements
    • Noise in electrical measurements
  • Chapter 3 – Source/Monitor Unit (SMU) Fundamentals
    • SMU overview
    • Understanding the ground unit
    • High current SMU connections (B1505A and B1506A)
    • Medium Current SMU Connections (B1500A)
    • Measurement ranging
    • Eliminating measurement noise and signal transients
    • Low current measurement
    • Spot and sweep measurements
    • Combining SMUs in series and parallel  
    • Safety issues
    • Additional Modules and Accessories for Power Device Test
  • Chapter 4 – On-Wafer Parametric Measurement
    • Introduction
    • Wafer prober measurement concerns
    • Switching matrices
    • Positioner-based switching solutions
    • High voltage and high current wafer probing
  • Chapter 5 – Time-Dependent and High-Speed Measurements 
    • Introduction
    • Parallel measurement with SMUs
    • Time sampling with SMUs
    • Maintaining a constant sweep step
    • High-speed test structure design
    • Fast IV and fast pulsed IV measurements
  • Chapter 6 – Making Accurate Resistance Measurements
    • Resistance measurement basics
    • Floating vs. grounded resistance measurements
    • Resistivity
    • Van der Pauw test structures
    • Accounting for Joule self-heating effects
    • Eliminating the effects of electro-motive force (EMF)
  • Chapter 7 – Diode and Transistor Measurement
    • Introduction
    • PN junctions and diodes
    • MOS transistor measurement
    • Bipolar transistor measurement
    • Nanotech devices
  • Chapter 8 – Capacitance Measurement Fundamentals
    • Introduction
    • MOSFET capacitance measurement
    • Quasi-static capacitance measurement
    • Low frequency (< 5 MHz) capacitance measurement
    • High frequency (>5 MHz) capacitance measurement
    • Making capacitance measurements through a switching matrix
  • Chapter 9 – Power Device Characterization
    • Introduction
    • Calculating Power Loss in Power Semiconductor Devices
    • High DC bias capacitance measurements
    • Gate charge measurement
    • On-wafer gate charge measurement
  • Appendix A – Keysight Technologies’ Parametric Measurement Solutions


What is a parametric test?

The question as to what constitutes parametric testing is an interesting one and is possibly open to some debate. Nevertheless, in general, parametric testing involves the electrical testing and characterization of four main types of semiconductor devices: resistors, diodes, transistors, and capacitors. This is not to say that parametric tests never involve the testing of other device types; however, the vast majority of parametric test structures can be classified into one of these categories or considered to be a combination of these categories.

The vast majority of parametric testing involves either current versus voltage (IV) or capacitance versus voltage (CV) measurements.

To many people, parametric testing means “DC” testing, but this is not an accurate description. Of course, it can take source/monitor units (SMUs) anywhere from milliseconds to seconds to make a measurement, which is certainly “slow” by the standards of functional testers (which typically perform measurements in the nanosecond or picosecond range). However, in recent years, the need to perform extremely fast parametric measurements (1 µs spot measurements with data sampling rates in the nanosecond range) has greatly increased. This has required the creation of new measurement module types (such as the waveform generator/fast measurement unit or WGFMU) to meet this need. Extremely fast IV and pulsed IV measurements will continue to take on increased importance in the future, as transistor lithographies continue to shrink and more exotic materials are incorporated into semiconductor processes.

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