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Development of ferroelectric random access memory

April 29, 2015

Dr. Takashi Eshita, director of SYSTEM MEMORY DIVISION in FUJITSU SEMICONDUCTOR LIMITED (FSL), has been awarded a Medal with Purple Ribbon (Shiju Hosho) by the Japanese Government for his considerable contribution to the development of ferroelectric random access memory (FRAM). FRAM is the key semiconductor memory using ferroelectric material applied to Internet of Things (IoT) devices, such as smart cards, authentication systems, and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. The award ceremony was held at Josuikaikan Hall in Tokyo on May 15. Thereafter he had an audience with the Japanese Emperor at Homeiden in the Imperial Palace.

Japanese Medals of Honor and Medal with Purple Ribbon

Medals of Honor (Hosho), which include six types of medals with different colored ribbons, are conferred by the Government of Japan. They are awarded to individuals who have done meritorious deeds and also to those who have achieved excellence in their field of work. Medal with Purple Ribbon (Shiju Hosho), one of the Medals of Honor, is awarded to individuals who have contributed to academic and artistic developments, improvements and accomplishments.

Development of the FRAM

Photo of T.EshitaDr. Takashi Eshita, Director, System Memory Business Div.Smart cards and mobile devices, which have gained popularity since the 1990s, require memories that store data even when the power is switched off (non-volatility), operate at low power in high speed, and have high write-read cycle endurance. Ferroelectric Random Access Memory, or FRAM, meets these requirements but efforts to develop technology to manufacture the memory using the conventional semiconductor process in Japan, Korea and the United States have previously been unsuccessful because the mass-production technologies for FRAM were not mature.

A major problem was that hydrogen, which is generated in the FRAM fabrication process, degraded the oxide ferroelectric material used in the FRAM. Dr. Eshita scrutinized the precise mechanisms of the degradation and was able to successfully prevent the degradation by employing a newly developed protection layer. FSL succeeded in manufacturing FRAM with a 0.5-μm design rule and memory density of 64 kbit in 1999 using his developed technologies. Today, FSL manufactures FRAM with a 0.18-μm design rule and memory density up to 4Mb. They are used in smart cards, authentication devices, electronic tags and others.

Photo of the certificate Photo of the medal purple ribbon