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Temperature Inversion in VLSI: Impact on Performance and Reliability

Temperature inversion is a phenomenon that occurs in very large-scale integration circuits. In VLSI technology, transistors are used to build digital circuits. The transistor is a fundamental component of VLSI circuits, and its performance depends on its operating temperature. In conventional transistors, the current flowing through the device is proportional to the voltage applied to the gate. However, in VLSI circuits, the size of the transistors is much smaller, and the operating voltage is much lower. As a result, the current flowing through the transistor becomes highly dependent on the temperature of the device.

When Does Temperature Inversion Occur?

A temperature inversion occurs when the temperature of the transistor increases to a point where the current flowing through the device begins to decrease with increasing voltage applied to the gate. This is in contrast to the conventional operation of a transistor, where the current increases with increasing gate voltage.

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Temperature inversion is due to the nature of the semiconductor material used in VLSI circuits. The semiconductor material used in VLSI circuits is typically composed of a silicon substrate with a thin layer of silicon dioxide on top. The silicon dioxide layer acts as an insulator, preventing current flow through the material. The thinness of this layer in VLSI technology means that a small change in temperature can have a significant effect on the properties of the transistor.

Impact of Temperature Inversion

When the temperature of the transistor increases, the density of electrons in the semiconductor material also increases. As a result, the threshold voltage of the transistor, which is the voltage required to turn on the device, decreases. When the threshold voltage decreases, the transistor begins to conduct current even when there is no voltage applied to the gate. This is called leakage current.

As the temperature continues to increase, the leakage current also increases. This can lead to significant power dissipation and device failure. In addition, the current flowing through the transistor may decrease, even when the gate voltage is increased, leading to degraded circuit performance.

Also Read Power Dissipation in CMOS Circuits

How to Avoid Temperature Inversion?

To mitigate temperature inversion, designers of VLSI circuits must take several steps. 

  1. One approach is to use specialized transistor designs that are less susceptible to temperature inversion. 
  2. Another method is to use sophisticated cooling techniques, such as liquid cooling, to keep the temperature of the circuit at a constant level. 
  3. Finally, circuit designers must ensure that the circuit layout is optimized to minimize the effects of temperature inversion.


A temperature inversion is a critical issue in VLSI technology that can significantly affect the performance of digital circuits. To ensure the reliable operation of these circuits, designers must take steps to mitigate temperature inversion, including the use of specialized transistor designs, sophisticated cooling techniques, and optimized circuit layouts. We hope you found this useful. 

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