Measuring Metal-Semiconductor Junction Contact Resistance Using the Transmission Line Method (TLM)

Measuring Metal-Silicon Contact Resistance
Using the Transmission Line Method (TLM)

First: Prepare the Junction

The first step in measuring the contact resistance of a metal-semiconductor junction is to deposit the metal on the semiconductor and pattern it so that you have lots of identical pads spaced varying distances apart.




  • Above is an example of the metal pattern.  Ideally, the pattern includes many rows of various pad sizes.
  • All the pads in any one row must be the same size, and the distances between pads must vary. 
  • After the metal is patterned, anneal according to your specific recipe.


Second: Take measurements

  • The measurements required are simple IV curves.  This is most easily done at a probe station, and using a parameter analyzer like our HP4145.
  • Apply a voltage between several pairs of adjacent pads in a row, and measure the current flow.  From this, calculate the resistance between those two pads (R=V/I).


Third: Calculate the Contact Resistance

  • As illustrated in the picture above, we can think of the total resistance between any two pads as the series combination of 3 resistors: metal to semiconductor, through the semiconductor, and back into metal.
  • Since ohmic contacts are the same for both polarities, what we have is 2Rpad + Rsemi.



  • In the limit where the distance between the pads approaches 0, Rsemi goes to 0 and what is left is 2Rpad.
  • Now that you have Rpad, multiply that value by the area of the metal pads (in cm2).
  • That's all! You now know the contact resistance of your metal-semiconductor junction.


So why is contact resistance so important?

  • 10-5ohm-cm2 sounds pretty small to me... Consider that in the modern 90nm processes, the vias that contact the silicon have a contact area of about (.1um)2, or 10-8cm2.  If your contact resistance is 10-5ohm-cm2, that amounts to 1 kohm resistor just to get into the silicon. (plus another to get out!)
  • A good contact resistance is on the order of 10-7ohm-cm2.