Document Type


Date of Award

Spring 5-31-1996

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Physics - (M.S.)



First Advisor

Kenneth Rudolph Farmer

Second Advisor

Ken K. Chin

Third Advisor

N. M. Ravindra


Emerging trends in the semiconductor device industry call for detailed knowledge of the properties of devices whose dimensions are small enough to exploit Quantum Mechanical effects. This thesis presents a complete picture of oxide degradation in MOS direct tunnel diodes (t0 <3.4 nm). It is demonstrated that for structures fabricated at different facilities and stressed with either gate or substrate injection, a universal degradation mode is revealed which is manifested as the build up of positive charge in the oxide. The data gathered demonstrates that the positive charging phenomena in sub-3.5 nm oxides is independent of oxide thickness, and is characterized by a voltage threshold and two-regime temperature dependence. Further, the catastrophic failure, or breakdown, of these oxides was studied and the strongest evidence to date is presented which links the positive charging phenomena to the oxide breakdown. This thesis concludes with the presentation of a novel device design which can exploit the properties of degradation and breakdown, in thin oxides, to achieve an EEPROM memory cell of superior endurance.

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