The electrostatic model for nanocrystal memories is used to illustrate the fundamental difference of the metal nanocrystal memory in low-voltage program/erase (P/E) operations in comparison with semiconductor nanocrystal and trap-based memories. Due to repulsion of potential contours inside conductors, the metal nanocrystals will significantly enhance the electric field between the nanocrystal and the sensing channel set up by the control gate bias and, hence, can achieve much higher efficiency in low-voltage P/E. On the other hand, the electric field originated from the stored charge will only be slightly different for metal and semiconductor nanocrystal cases. We presented the electrostatic models by both approximate analytical formulation and three-dimensional numerical simulation in a nanocrystal array. Operations of P/E and read disturbance were analyzed for the cases of homogeneous charge distribution, silicon, and metal nanocrystals. In the P/E condition of +5/-5 V, the metal nanocrystal memory offers around 1.6 times higher peak fields than Si counterparts and almost three times higher than that from the one-dimensional model for homogeneous charge distribution. The field enhancement factor suggests the design criteria of oxide thickness, nanocrystal size, and spacing. The advantage of asymmetric field enhancement of metal nanocrystals will be even more prominent when high-K gate dielectrics are employed.
- Electric field enhancement
- Nonvolatile memories