John Szedon

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John Szedon
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CitizenshipUnited states

John Szedon (born 1937) is a US scientist. He is best known for inventing the charge trap memory, the basis of Charge Trap Flash with Ting L. Chu in 1967.


John Szedon worked for the Science & Technology Center.[1] of Westinghouse Electric Corporation in Churchill, Pennsylvania, from 1962-1994. Although he worked in a number of fields dealing with thin-film semiconductors, he is most well known for revealing that a charge trap, which at that time was viewed as a problem with some forms of transistor, could be used as a cost-effective memory device. This became the foundation for charge trap flash.

When he was studying charge trapping as a part of his work with the then-new field effect transistors (using layered films for the insulator) Szedon was challenged with a phenomenon that caused failures from transistor aging. This mechanism, charge trapping, involved electrons that remained trapped within insulating layers in the insulator between the control gate and the channel of a MOSFET. Szedon determined that the phenomenon, if properly controlled, could be used to store ones and zeros within the transistor as a memory bit, perhaps replacing the current magnetic-core memory technology in which hand-woven arrays were used to store bits. Core memories were costly to produce due to the labor involved in their production.

Szedon and Ting L. Chu first presented this concept at the 1967 IEEE Device Research Conference, Santa Barbara, California, in June 1967 in the paper: "Tunnel Injection and Trapping of Electrons in Aluminum-Silicon Nitride-Silicon Dioxide-Silicon (MNOS) Capacitors.” (Although no archive was kept for this conference, the paper's title appears in the conference agenda[2] and it is referenced in a subsequent paper delivered at the 1967 IEDM conference[3].)

The concept of using charge traps to store logic states was further refined into the MONOS memory element[4] and later into the SONOS memory bit. It was also the basis for the MirrorBit memory[5] produced by Advanced Micro Devices and eventually became the basis for most 3D NAND flash memory[6][7].

Szedon also identified certain types of radiation damage in semiconductor devices[8], and devised ways to improve their reliability, determining methods for using these devices in applications such as space vehicles and reconnaissance satellites.

Later in his career Szedon worked in the solar cell field, researching cadmium sulfide cells[9]

Szedon was very active with the IEEE, and published the newsletter for the IEEE Electron Devices Society for a number of years[10]. He published over 20 IEEE papers..[11] and conference presentations and was granted four patents.[12]


  1. The static and dynamic properties of the avalanche injection diode (1963)
  2. Tunnelling planar silicon triode with pentode-like characteristics (1963)
  3. High-frequency capacitance measurements on MOS structures and devices (1964)
  4. The Effect of Low‐Energy Electron Irradiation of Metal‐Oxide‐Semiconductor Structures (1965)
  5. Charge instability in metal-silicon nitride-silicon structures (1966)
  6. Tunnel injection and trapping of electrons in aluminum-silicon nitride-silicon dioxide-silicon (MNOS) capacitors (1967)
  7. The preparation and CV characteristics of SiSi3N4 and SiSiO2Si3N4 structures (1967)
  8. Films of Silicon Nitride‐Silicon Dioxide Mixtures (1968)
  9. Characterization, control, and use of dielectric charge effects in silicon technology (1969)
  10. Effects of organic and inorganic dielectric films on semiconductor devices (1970)
  11. A method for characterizing electrical stability of organic coatings in microelectronic applications (1971)
  12. Dielectric films for capacitor applications in electronic technology (1971)
  13. Effects of humidity and organic coating on surface potential propagation in passivated devices (1971)
  14. Dielectric films for capacitor applications in electronic technology (1971)
  15. An approach for evaluating polymer materials as protective coatings on hybrid microcircuits (1974)
  16. Heterostructure single crystal silicon photovoltaic solar cells (1978)
  17. Cadmium sulfide/copper sulfide heterojunction cell research (1979)
  18. Development of copper sulfide/cadmium sulfide thin-film solar cells (1982)
  19. Characterization of rf‐sputtered CuInSe2 films (1983)
  20. RF-magnetron-sputtered AlN films for microwave acoustic resonators (1985)
  21. UHF Film Resonator Evaluation and Resonator-Controlled Oscillator Design Using Computer-Aided Design Techniques (1985)


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