A model to study the effect of the roughness at the poly-Si/SiO2 interface in silicon inversion layers on the electron mobility is obtained. Screening of the resulting perturbation potential by the channel carriers is taken into account, considering Green’s functions for metal–oxide–semiconductor geometry, i.e., taking into account the finite thickness of the gate oxide. Mobility of electrons is evaluated at room temperature by the Monte Carlo method, taking into account the simultaneous contribution of phonon scattering, SiO2/Si interface roughness scattering, Coulomb scattering, and remote surface roughness scattering. The contribution of excited subbands is considered. The resulting remote surface roughness scattering is shown to be strongly dependent on the oxide thickness, and degrades mobility curves at low inversion charge concentrations. The results obtained show that the effect of this scattering mechanism cannot be ignored when the oxide thickness is below 5 nm, (as in actual devices), even when (as is usual) very high doping concentrations are used. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.