The solid state drive (SSD) consists of numerous data storage elements. Each element (NAND flash memory element) reminds me of a microscopic battery. An electron is supposed to enter the element through the oxide layer and remain inside. A transistor beneath the element is used when reading the memory element. However, the oxide layer is prone to deterioration.

After I attended a series of lectures on this technology, I was struck with a question in mind. The electron moves through the oxide layer by means of quantum tunneling. Does that mean that the tunneling in principle is a process that deteriorates the barrier?


1 Answer 1


The electron does not deposit energy in the oxide layer. The oxide layer provides for a potential barrier, the electron moves though it despite the fact that in a classical picture the electron should have a negative kinetic energy there. You can consider a process where the electron is going to do some damage to the oxide layer, but such a process is only possible if in the final state the electron can end up with a positive kinetic energy.

  • $\begingroup$ The energy is not negative, see this. $\endgroup$ Nov 3, 2015 at 19:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Energizer777 Yes, but then that's the classical picture. In quantum mechanics there is no physical state for the electron in the forbidden region. You can, of course, attempt to measure it there, but that has the effect of modifying the potential. $\endgroup$ Nov 3, 2015 at 20:29
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe it would help to consider an electron to be a "field excitation" that oscillates and moves through the barrier like this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_tunnelling#/media/… It decreases its amplitude, but it keeps its energy, as the page says. Maybe the electron does not have enough of the classical energy, but it obtains some Planck-sized energy to go through the barrier. The same question again remains: what happens to the barrier and to which degree. $\endgroup$
    – GianniTee
    Nov 4, 2015 at 19:47

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