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We have applied the electron spin resonance (ESR) technique to clarify the microscopic mechanism of the degradation by the Fowler-Nordheim (FN) stress of thermally grown SiO/sub 2/ films. Conventional ESR using the continuous-wave (cw) method was utilized to identify the paramagnetic defects generated. We have observed ESR signals of the E' center in the FN-stressed SiO/sub 2/ films for both the oxide thickness (T/sub ox/) of 10 nm and 25 nm. The specific properties of the E' centers created in FN-stressed SiO/sub 2/ thin films of T/sub ox/ of 10 nm were also studied by the pulsed ESR technique. In SiO/sub 2//Si for both the T/sub ox/ of 10 nm and 25 nm, the ESR signals of the E' center have been observed after applying the FN-stress. The short phase memory time of the E' center in the FN-stressed SiO/sub 2//Si with T/sub ox/ of 10 nm is ascribed to the high local concentration of these centers.