JST Press Release

June 10, 2019

Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)
5-3, Yonbancho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Emerging device by the fusion of functional metal oxide materials: IGZO and ferroelectric-HfO2

Next generation memory with low-power, high-speed, and high capacity

Ferroelectric FET (FeFET) is a promising memory device because of its low-power, high-speed and high-capacity. Toward 3D integration for higher capacity, a team of researchers has developed a ferroelectric-HfO2 based FeFET with 8nm-thick IGZO channel instead of poly-silicon channel. They achieved nearly ideal subthreshold swing of 60mV/dec and higher mobility than poly-silicon channel thanks to the material property of IGZO and junctionless transistor operation. The obtained results will contribute to ultralow power devices for IoT applications.

As a part of JST PRESTO program, Associate professor Masaharu Kobayashi, Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo, has developed a ferroelectric FET (FeFET) with ferroelectric-HfO2 and ultrathin IGZO channel. Nearly ideal subthreshold swing (SS) and mobility higher than poly-silicon channel have been demonstrated.

FeFET is a promising memory device because of its low-power, high-speed and high-capacity. After the discovery of CMOS-compatible ferroelectric-HfO2 material, FeFET has been attracting more attentions than ever before. For even higher memory capacity, 3D vertical stack structure has been proposed as shown in Fig. 1(a).

For 3D vertical stack structure, poly-silicon is typically used as a channel material. However, poly-silicon has very low mobility in nanometer thickness region due to grain boundaries and extrinsic defects. Moreover, poly-silicon forms a low-k interfacial layer with ferroelectric-HfO2 gate insulator. This results in voltage loss and charge trapping which prevents low voltage operation and degrades reliability, respectively as shown in Fig. 1(b).

To solve these problems, in this study, we proposed a ferroelectric-HfO2 based FeFET with ultrathin IGZO channel. IGZO is a metal-oxide semiconductor and can avoid low-k interfacial layer with ferroelectric HfO2 gate insulator. Moreover, since IGZO is N-type semiconductor and typically used in junctionless transistor operation, charge trapping, which seriously happens in inversion mode operation, can be avoided as shown in Fig. 1(b).

First, we systematically investigated optimum IGZO channel thickness. As IGZO thickness decreases, SS is reduced and threshold voltage (Vth) increases. To realize steep SS and normally-off operation, 8nm was chosen. Next, we fabricated TiN/HfZrO2/IGZO capacitor. HfZrO2 is the ferroelectric layer. Cross-sectional TEM image shows that each layer was uniformly formed as shown in Fig. 2(a). GIXRD spectrum was taken and ferroelectric phase was confirmed. By electrical characterization, we confirmed clear ferroelectric property with IGZO capping on HfZrO2 as shown in Fig. 2(b). It should be noted that, in the current device design, back-gate is needed with buried oxide to fix body potential. Without back-gate, body potential is floating and voltage cannot be sufficiently applied on ferroelectric-HfO2 gate insulator, which was confirmed by TCAD simulation. Based on these device design, we fabricated a FeFET with ferroelectric-HfO2 and ultrathin IGZO channel. Fig. 3(a) shows the measured drain-current versus gate-voltage after applying write and erase pulse voltages. 0.5V memory window and nearly ideal SS of 60mV/dec was obtained. In addition, field-effect mobility is about 10cm2/Vs as shown in Fig. 3(b), which can be higher than poly-silicon at the same thickness.

The achievements in this study will open a new path for realizing low-voltage and highly reliable FeFET with 3D vertical stack structure. This leads to enabling ultralow power IoT edge devices, deploying highly sophisticated network system, and thus providing more strategic social services utilizing big data. This work was presented in VLSI Technology Symposium 2019 on June 11th in 2019, which was held in Kyoto, Japan.

  • Fig. 1
    Fig. 1
    • (a) Schematic of ferroelectric-HfO2 based FeFET with 3D vertical stack structure for high memory capacity. Poly-silicon is typically used as a channel material. In this work, we propose to use IGZO as a channel material. (b) Schematic illustration of current challenges of poly-silicon channel and possible solution by IGZO channel. Poly-silicon has low mobility in nanometer thickness region and forms low-k interfacial layer which causes voltage loss and charge trapping.
  • Fig. 2
    Fig. 2
    • (a) Cross-sectional TEM image of a TiN/HfZrO2/IGZO capacitor. Each layer was uniformly formed. HfZrO2 layer is uniformly crystallized having ferroelectric phase. (b) Measured polarization charge versus voltage of a TiN/HfZrO2/IGZO capacitor. Clear ferroelectricity was confirmed.
  • Fig. 3
    Fig. 3
    • (a) Measured drain current versus gate voltage of an FeFET with 8nm-thick IGZO channel. Memory window of 0.5V and nearly ideal SS of 60mV/dec were achieved. (b) Measured field-effect mobility of the FeFET with IGZO channel. Mobility of 10cm2/Vs can be higher than that of poly-silicon channel at the same thickness.
  • Program Information

    Research Area “Innovative Nano-electronics through Interdisciplinary Collaboration among Material, Device and System Layers”
    Research Theme “Research and development of steep slope transistor using negative capacitance of gate insulator for ultralow power operation and its application to nanowire structure”

    Journal Information

    Fei Mo, Yusaku Tagawa, Chengji Jin, MinJu Ahn, Takuya Saraya, Toshiro Hiramoto and Masaharu Kobayashi, “Experimental Demonstration of Ferroelectric HfO2 FET with Ultrathin-body IGZO for High-Density and Low-Power Memory Applicatione”, VLSI Technology Symposium 2019, pp. 42-43.