Numerical simulation of bottom oxide thickness effect on charge retention in SONOS flash memory cells

Shaw Hung Gu*, Chih Wei Hsu, Ta-Hui Wang, Wen Pin Lu, Yen Hui Joseph Ku, Chih Yuan Lu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


In this paper, bottom-oxide thickness (Tbo) and program/erase stress effects on charge retention in SONOS Flash memory cells with FN programming are investigated. Utilizing a numerical analysis based on a multiple electron-trapping model to solve the Shockley-Read-Hall rate equations in nitride, we simulate the electron-retention behavior in a SONOS cell with Tbo from 1.8 to 5.0 nm. In our model, the nitride traps have a continuous energy distribution. A series of Frenkel-Poole (FP) excitation of trapped electrons to the conduction band and electron recapture into nitride traps feature the transitions between the conduction band and trap states. Conduction band electron tunneling via oxide traps created by high-voltage stress and trapped electron direct tunneling through the bottom oxide are included to describe various charge leakage paths. We measure the nitride-charge leakage current directly in a large-area device for comparison. This paper reveals that the charge-retention loss in a high-voltage stressed cell, with a thicker bottom oxide (5 nm), exhibits two stages. The charge-leakage current is limited by oxide trap-assisted tunneling in the first stage and, then, follows a 1/t time dependence due to the FP emission in the second stage. The transition time from the first stage to the second stage is related to oxide trap-assisted tunneling time but is prolonged by a factor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-97
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Electron Devices
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2007


  • Oxide thickness
  • Positive oxide charge-assisted tunneling
  • SONOS retention mechanisms
  • Shockley-Read-Hall (SRH) rate equation

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