Nonvolatile memory structures using Ge nanocrystals embedded in SiO2 have been characterized by room and low temperature current–voltage and capacitance–voltage measurements. The Ge nanocrystals have been fabricated by low pressure chemical vapor deposition process which is shown to be well suited for a real control of the tunnel oxide thickness. The deposition conditions allow a separate control of nc-Ge density and size. Using capacitance–voltage characterizations on nonvolatile memory structures, we have measured the charging and discharging kinetics of holes for tunnel oxides in the range 1.2–2.5 nm. Using current–voltage measurements and simulations, we have also shown that nc-Ge are at the origin of a tunnel-assisted current. Simulations have demonstrated that the hole’s charging effects strongly reduce the current density across the nonvolatile memory structure. Combined with a good control of nc-Ge properties, the use of Ge dots with large diameters (≫10 nm) seems to be a promising way for p-type memory applications. © 2004 American Institute of Physics.