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Monolithically Integrated Acoustic Resonators on CMOS for Radio-Frequency Circuit Applications

Edrees, Hassan

Wireless communication circuits rely on the use of high-quality passive elements (inductor-capacitor resonant tanks) for the implementation of selective filters and high-purity frequency references (oscillators). Typically available CMOS, on-chip passives suffer from high losses, primarily inductors, and consume large areas that cannot be populated by transistors leading to a significant area penalty. Mechanical resonators exhibit significantly lower losses than their electrical counterparts due to the reduced parasitic loss mechanisms in the mechanical domain. Efficient transduction schemes such as the piezoelectric effect allow for simple electrical actuation and read-out of such mechanical resonators. Piezoelectric thin-film bulk acoustic resonators (FBARs) are currently among the most promising and widely used mechanical resonator structures. However, FBARs are currently only available as off-chip components, which must be connected to CMOS circuitry through wire-bonding and flip-chip schemes. The use of off-chip interfaces introduces considerable parasitics and significant limitations on integration density. Monolithic integration with CMOS substrates alleviates interconnect parasitics, increases integration density and allows for area sharing whereby FBARs reside atop active CMOS circuitry. Close integration of FBARs and CMOS transistors can also enable new circuit paradigms, which simultaneously leverage the strengths of both components.
Described here, is a body of work conducted to integrate FBAR resonators with active CMOS substrates (180nm and 65nm processes). A monolithic fabrication method is described which allows for FBAR devices to be constructed atop the backend small CMOS dies through low thermal-budget (< 300°C) post-processing. Stand-alone fabricated devices are characterized and the extracted electrical model is used to design two oscillator chips. The chips comprise amplifier circuitry that functions along with the integrated FBARs to achieve oscillation in the 0.8-2 GHz range. The chips also include test structures to assess the performance of the underlying CMOS transistors before and after the resonator post-processing. A successful FBAR-CMOS oscillator is demonstrated in 65nm CMOS along with characterization of FBARs built on CMOS. The approach presented here can be used for experimenting with more complex circuits leveraging the co-integration of piezoelectric resonators and CMOS transistors.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Electrical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Kymissis, Ioannis
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 17, 2016
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