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Al2O3 cell capacitors for dynamic random access memory (DRAM) applications were tested using constant voltage, time-dependent dielectric breakdown (TDDB) tests. The capacitors had area-enhancing, hemispherical grain (HSG) polysilicon as bottom electrodes (BEs). These electrodes acted as points of high electric field, and eased charge injection into the Al2O3. As a result, the capacitors had highly asymmetric current-voltage (I-V) characteristics. Time-to-fails (TTFs) were polarity-dependent, and, thus, much worse for HSG injection. However, activation energy (Ea) and charge-to-breakdown (QBD) obtained from conducting stress under opposite polarities were a unique function of the electric field only. The results point to a common, polarity-independent mechanism responsible for final breakdown, and the possibility that only the kinetics of degradation is electrode controlled. Good correlation with the thermochemical E model suggests that the breakdown mechanism in Al2O3 might be similar to SiO2.