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In situ transmission electron microscopy of resistive switching in thin silicon oxide layers

Duchamp, M; Migunov, V; Tavabi, AH; Mehonic, A; Buckwell, M; Munde, M; Kenyon, AJ; (2016) In situ transmission electron microscopy of resistive switching in thin silicon oxide layers. Resolution and Discovery , 1 (1) pp. 27-33. 10.1556/2051.2016.00036. Green open access

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Abstract

Silicon oxide-based resistive switching devices show great potential for applications in nonvolatile random access memories. We expose a device to voltages above hard breakdown and show that hard oxide breakdown results in mixing of the SiOx layer and the TiN lower contact layers. We switch a similar device at sub-breakdown fields in situ in the transmission electron microscope (TEM) using a movable probe and study the diffusion mechanism that leads to resistance switching. By recording bright-field (BF) TEM movies while switching the device, we observe the creation of a filament that is correlated with a change in conductivity of the SiOx layer. We also examine a device prepared on a microfabricated chip and show that variations in electrostatic potential in the SiOx layer can be recorded using off-axis electron holography as the sample is switched in situ in the TEM. Taken together, the visualization of compositional changes in ex situ stressed samples and the simultaneous observation of BF TEM contrast variations, a conductivity increase, and a potential drop across the dielectric layer in in situ switched devices allow us to conclude that nucleation of the electroforming—switching process starts at the interface between the SiOx layer and the lower contact.

Type: Article
Title: In situ transmission electron microscopy of resistive switching in thin silicon oxide layers
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1556/2051.2016.00036
Publisher version: http://www.akademiai.com/doi/abs/10.1556/2051.2016...
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016 The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium for non-commercial purposes, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: In situ TEM electrical biasing, Resistive switching SiOx
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Chemical Engineering
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Electronic and Electrical Eng
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1524852
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