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Based on the method for the derivation of the Fowler–Nordheim equation, a relatively simple expression for field emission from silicon covered with a thin oxide is presented. The current flows from silicon through the thin oxide during field emission. Some of the electrons flowing through the thin oxide may be captured by the electron traps within it. A model has been developed on the assumption that only the electron trapping within the oxide is considered. The model is successfully applied to explain the instability of field emission from the oxide‐covered silicon. The model is also compared with available experiments, and good qualitative agreement is achieved. © 1996 American Institute of Physics.