SEMulator3D® is a powerful 3D semiconductor and MEMS process modeling platform that offers wide ranging technology development capabilities. Based on highly efficient physics-driven voxel modeling technology, SEMulator3D has a unique ability to model complete process flows.

Starting from input design data, SEMulator3D follows an integrated process flow description to create the virtual equivalent of the complex 3D structures created in the fab. Because the full integrated process sequence is modeled, SEMulator3D has the ability to predict downstream ramifications of process changes that would otherwise require build-and-test cycles in the fab.

Process Modeling

Using unique physics-driven 3D modeling technology, the SEMulator3D modeling engine can model a wide variety of unit process steps. Each process step requires only a few geometric and physical input parameters that are easy to understand and calibrate. Just as in an actual fab, upstream unit process parameters (such as deposition conformality, etch anisotropy, selectivity, etc.) interact with each other and design data in a complex way to impact the final device structure. Some examples of the types of unit process steps that can be modeled with SEMulator3D:

Growth General
Wet Etching PECVD Epitaxy Lithography
Plasma Etching LPCVD Thermal Oxidation CMP
RIE HDPCVD Silicidation Implantation
DRIE ALD Electroplating Diffusion
High-Density Plasma Etching Sputtering Wafer Bonding
Sputter Etching Evaporation

SEMulator3D uses two fundamental types of proprietary modeling technology: voxel modeling and surface evolution. Voxel modeling is extremely efficient and ideal for modeling unit process steps that can be characterized geometrically; for example, lithography, spin-on deposition, and wet etches. Surface evolution is a more powerful modeling technique that’s ideal for steps like plasma etching and selective epitaxy, which have more complex physics-driven behavior (see Advanced Modeling). Both types of steps can be combined together in the same process flow for optimal accuracy and efficiency.


SEMulator3D Viewer shows a 3D rendering of the virtual device model at every step in the process. Step-by-step visualization can aid in understanding process failure modes and other complex process phenomena. Cross-sectioning and dimensional measurements can be performed anywhere on the 3D model. SEMulator3D Viewer has many advanced capabilities, including automatic animation of process steps and automatic export to Microsoft PowerPoint.

Fig 2: SEMulator3D Viewer, showing a hypothetical 22nm FinFET SRAM cell

SEMulator3D Viewer can also publish 3D models to Coventor’s SEM3D format, for viewing with SEMulator3D Reader.

SEMulator3D Automation

SEMulator3D Automation is a spreadsheet-driven automation engine that enables massively parallel process variation studies. By automatically building a series of SEMulator3D models with specific variations in process parameters, SEMulator3D Automation enables virtual studies of process tolerances, yield or cross-wafer uniformity. See the SEMulator3D Automation page for more details.

Fig 3: examples of process variation studies with SEMulator3D Automation. (a) multivariate study of selective epitaxial growth of SiGe on a FinFET. (b) cross-wafer uniformity for a BEOL etch.

Electrical Analysis

The Electrical Analysis module adds powerful resistance and capacitance extraction to deepen the understanding of process and design sensitivities. The Electrical Analysis module can calculate the resistance of conductor nets and capacitance of nets directly within SEMulator3D, providing a single platform for both 3D modeling and validation of electrical function. Extracted netlist files can be validated and merged with reference CDL netlists obtained from 3rd-party EDA tools. Resistance and capacitance calculations are completed faster and more accurately in SEMulator3D than in standalone R/C solvers.   The process-predictive and silicon accurate structures used in SEMulator3D more precisely reflect fabricated devices than the idealized geometry used in standalone solvers, leading to more accurate R/C calculations. The SEMulator3D platform also provides faster results than alternative standalone solutions, due to the close integration between the 3D modeling and electrical analysis functions in the unified platform.

Device Analysis

The Device Analysis feature, as part of the Electrical Analysis module, can extract electrical characteristics of a transistor (I-V through DC analysis, and C-V through small-signal AC analysis), and explore transistor process variability on device performance, all directly within SEMulator3D. The solver takes into account a variety of physical phenomena such as field-dependent recombination and band-to-band tunneling.
Designers can generate transistor IV curves and perform automatic device parameter extraction from those curves. Transistor performance can be measured across changes in patterning, lithography, etch, deposition and other process integration effects. Determine the impact of any process step on transistor behavioral measures, such as device threshold voltage, and perform statistical studies of performance across a range of process changes. This functionality is fully automated and integrated with SEMulator3D, and supports all types of process modeling. Device Analysis will provide insight into how process integration decisions, such as patterning schemes and allowed unit process variations, impact transistor device performance.

SEMulator3D Analytics

The SEMulator3D Analytics module automates statistical analysis of process variation directly within SEMulator3D. The new Analytics user interface guides users in the design, execution and analysis of large statistical experiments using various techniques, including Monte-Carlo process variation. Automated multivariate regression is used to identify important parameters and rank them by their impact on process variation.

In addition to identifying important input parameters, users can use the Process Model Calibration (PMC) workflow with indirect or direct optimization to automatically obtain the values needed to match virtual measurement data to hardware data, streamlining the process of creating a virtual replica of the actual wafer.

Process Window Optimization (PWO) workflow can be used to understand and identify the ranges of input parameters (i.e. the process window) to achieve specific user-defined performance metrics or goals, helping drive semiconductor process decisions.

These capabilities, including the Expeditor batch execution engine and Analytics add-on, enable massive parallel quantitative studies of process or design variation, enabling process assumption validation, design rule generation, yield ramp and other uses.

And Much, Much More

SEMulator3D has many additional capabilities:

  • Mesh generation for export to standard mesh formats
  • A full suite of layout viewing and editing tools
  • Customization via a full Python scripting API
  • A library of new process modeling capabilities, written in Python
  • Example process technology files

Please contact Coventor for additional information about SEMulator3D.

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