Silicon Carbide as the Nonvolatile-Dynamic-Memory Material

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Dimitrijev, Sima

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Harrison, Barry

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This thesis consists of three main parts, starting with the use of improved nitridation processes to grow acceptable quality gate oxides on silicon carbide (SiC)[1]–[7], to the comprehensive investigation of basic electron-hole generation process in 4H SiC-based metal–oxide–semiconductor (MOS) capacitors [8], [9], and concluding with the experimental demonstration and analysis of nonvolatile characteristics of 4H SiC-based memory devices [10]–[15]. In the first part of the thesis, two improved versions of nitridation techniques have been introduced to alleviate oxide-growth rate and toxicity problems. Using a combination of nitridation and oxidation processes, a sandwich technique (nitridation–oxidation–nitridation) has been proposed and verified to solve the lengthy and expensive oxide-growing process in direct nitric oxide (NO) gas [1]. The nitrogen source from the toxic-NO gas has been replaced by using a nontoxic nitrous oxide (N2O) gas. The best combination of process parameters in this gas is oxide-growing temperature at 1300oC with 10% N2O [2], [3]. The quality of nitrided gate oxides obtained by this technique is lower than the sandwich technique [6], [13]. Using 4H SiC-based MOS with nitrided gate oxides grown by either of the abovementioned nitridation techniques, the fundamentals of electron-hole generation have been investigated using high-temperature capacitance–transient measurements. The contributions of carrier generation, occurring at room temperature, in the bulk and at the SiC–SiO2 interface are evaluated and compared using a newly developed method [8], [9]. The effective bulk-generation rates are approximately equal for both types of nitrided oxides, whereas the effective surface-generation rates have been shown to exhibit very strong dependencies on the methods of producing the nitrided gate oxide. Based on analysis, the prevailing generation component in a SiC-based MOS capacitor with nitrided gate oxide is at SiC–SiO2 interface located below the gate. Utilizing the understanding of electron-hole generation in SiC, the nonvolatile characteristics of memory device fabricated on SiC have been explored. The potential of developing a SiC-based one-transistor one-capacitor (1T/1C) nonvolatile-dynamic memory (NDM) has been analyzed using SiC-based MOS capacitors as storage elements or test structures. Three possible leakage mechanisms have been evaluated [10]–[16]: (1) leakage via MOS capacitor dielectric, (2) leakage due to electron-hole generation in a depleted MOS capacitor, and (3) junction leakage due to generation current occurred at a reverse-biased pn junction surrounding the drain region of a select metal–oxide– semiconductor field–effect–transistor (MOSFET). Among them, leakage through capacitor oxide remains an important factor that could affect the nonvolatile property in the proposed device, whereas others leakage mechanisms are insignificant. Based on the overall results, the potential of developing a SiC-based 1T/1C NDM is encouraging.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Microelectronic Engineering

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silicon carbide


microelectronic engineering






metal oxide semiconductors

metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistors

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