Heterogeneous floating-gates consisting of metal nanocrystals and silicon nitride (Si3N4) for nonvolatile memory applications have been fabricated and characterized. By combining the self-assembled Au nanocrystals and plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) nitride layer, the heterogeneous-stack devices can achieve enhanced retention, endurance, and low-voltage program/erase characteristics over single-layer nanocrystals or nitride floating-gate memories. The metal nanocrystals at the lower stack enable the direct tunneling mechanism during program/erase to achieve low-voltage operation and good endurance, while the nitride layer at the upper stack works as an additional charge trap layer to enlarge the memory window and significantly improve the retention time. The write/erase time of the heterogeneous stack is almost the same as that of the single-layer metal nanocrystals. In addition, we could further enhance the memory window by stacking more nanocrystal/nitride heterogeneous layers, as long as the effective oxide thickness from the control gate is still within reasonable ranges to control the short channel effects.
- Direct tunneling
- Nanocrystal/nitride heterogeneous floating-gate
- Nonvolatile memories