There generally exists a large variation in the thereshold voltages of the flash EEPROM cells after they are erased by using th fowler-nordheim tunneling, thereby getting some cells to be overeased. If the overerased cells are programmed with the conventional one-step programming scheme where an 12-13V pulse with the duration of 100.mu.S is applie don the control gate for the programming, they can suffer from the significant degradation of the reliability of the gate oxide. A two-step programming schem, where an 8/12 V pulse with a duration of 50.mu.S for each voltage is applied on the control gate for the programming, has been studied to solve the problem. The experimental results hav eshown that there is little difference in the programming characteristics between those two schemes, whereas the degradation of the gate oxide due to the programming can be significantly reduced with the two-step programming scheme compared to that with the one-step programming scheme. This is possibly because the positive charge stored in the floating gate of the overerased cells is compensate dwith the electrons injected into the floating gate while the 8V pulse is applied on the control gate, which leaves the overerased cells in the normally erased state after the duration of the 8V pulse.
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