Modeling and simulation of floating gate nanocrystal FET devices and circuits

Date of Completion

January 2004


Engineering, Electronics and Electrical|Physics, Condensed Matter




The nonvolatile memory market has been growing very fast during the last decade, especially for mobile communication systems. The Semiconductor Industry Association International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors states that the difficult challenge for nonvolatile semiconductor memories is to achieve reliable, low power, low voltage performance and high-speed write/erase. This can be achieved by aggressive scaling of the nonvolatile memory cells. Unfortunately, scaling down of conventional nonvolatile memory will further degrade the retention time due to the charge loss between the floating gate and drain/source contacts and substrate which makes conventional nonvolatile memory unattractive. Using nanocrystals as charge storage sites reduces dramatically the charge leakage through oxide defects and drain/source contacts. Floating gate nanocrystal nonvolatile memory, FG-NCNVM, is a candidate for future memory because it is advantageous in terms of high-speed write/erase, small size, good scalability, low-voltage, low-power applications, and the capability to store multiple bits per cell. ^ Many studies regarding FG-NCNVMs have been published. Most of them have dealt with fabrication improvements of the devices and device characterizations. Due to the promising FG-NCNVM applications in integrated circuits, there is a need for circuit a simulation model to simulate the electrical characteristics of the floating gate devices. In this thesis, a FG-NCNVM circuit simulation model has been proposed. It is based on the SPICE BSIM simulation model. This model simulates the cell behavior during normal operation. Model validation results have been presented. The SPICE model shows good agreement with experimental results. Current-voltage characteristics, transconductance and unity gain frequency (fT) have been studied showing the effect of the threshold voltage shift (ΔVth) due to nanocrystal charge on the device characteristics. The threshold voltage shift due to nanocrystal charge has a strong effect on the memory characteristics. Also, the programming operation of the memory cell has been investigated. The tunneling rate from quantum well channel to quantum dot (nanocrystal) gate is calculated. The calculations include various memory parameters, wavefunctions, and energies of quantum well channel and quantum dot gate. The use of floating gate nanocrystal memory as a transistor with a programmable threshold voltage has been demonstrated. The incorporation of FG-NCFETs to design programmable integrated circuit building blocks has been discussed. This includes the design of programmable current and voltage reference circuits. Finally, we demonstrated the design of tunable gain op-amp incorporating FG-NCFETs. Programmable integrated circuit building blocks can be used in intelligent analog and digital systems. ^