Skip to Main Content
Discrete nitride program charge loss in a small-area SONOS Flash memory cell during retention is observed. Our measurement shows that a retention Vt of a programmed SONOS cell exhibits a stepwise evolution with retention time. Individual single-program charge-loss-induced threshold voltage shifts (ΔVt) are characterized. We find the following: 1) The magnitude of ΔVt exhibits an exponential distribution, which is believed due to a current-path percolation effect caused by random program charges and substrate dopants, and 2) program-state Vt retention loss has large variations in different cells and P/E cycles due to the percolation effect. We develop a Monte Carlo analysis to take into account the distribution of ΔVt and a tunneling front model to study the spread of a retention Vt distribution in a SONOS Flash memory.