In order to meet technology scaling in the field of solid-state memory and data storage, the mainstream transistor-based flash technologies will start evolving to incorporate material and structural innovations. Dielectric scaling in nonvolatile memories is approaching the point where new approaches will be required to meet the scaling requirements while simultaneously meeting the reliability and performance requirements of future products. High-dielectric-constant materials are being explored as possible candidates to replace the traditional SiO2 and ONO (oxide/nitride/oxide) films used today in memory cells. Likewise, planar-based memory cell scaling is approaching the point where scaling constraints force exploration of new materials and nonplanar, three-dimensional scaling alternatives. This article will review the current status and discuss the approaches being explored to provide scaling solutions for future transistor floating-gate-based nonvolatile memory products. Based on the introduction of material innovations, it is expected that the planar transistor-based flash memory cells can scale through at least the end of the decade (2010) using techniques that are available today or projected to be available in the near future. More complex, structural innovations will be required to achieve further scaling.
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