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Silicon dioxide films are sputter deposited on polycrystalline silicon (polysilicon) in an oxygen‐argon atmosphere at 200 °C. Electrical conduction and breakdown are measured at various gate fields and temperatures. In addition to the Fowler–Nordheim tunneling current reported for thermal oxide, the sputter‐deposited films have another, newly identified high‐activation‐energy current as electrical conduction mechanisms. The high‐activation‐energy current contribution to the total current is considerably reduced by increasing the oxygen mixing ratio and/or by decreasing the sputtering gas pressure, resulting in a considerable total current reduction. High‐activation‐energy current contributes little to the triggering of breakdown, unlike Fowler–Nordheim tunneling injections. In contrast to polysilicon thermal oxide, sputter‐deposited films on polysilicon have no observable field enhancement in Fowler–Nordheim tunneling current, which indicates smooth surfaces. Thus, electrical properties in oxygen‐argon sputter‐deposited films on polysilicon are explained by high‐activation‐energy current and Fowler–Nordheim tunneling current.