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Title: Atomic-scale tuning of ultrathin memristors

Continuous device downsizing and circuit complexity have motivated atomic-scale tuning of memristors. Herein, we report atomically tunable Pd/M1/M2/Al ultrathin (<2.5 nm M1/M2 bilayer oxide thickness) memristors using in vacuo atomic layer deposition by controlled insertion of MgO atomic layers into pristine Al2O3atomic layer stacks guided by theory predicted Fermi energy lowering leading to a higher high state resistance (HRS) and a reduction of oxygen vacancy formation energy. Excitingly, memristors with HRS and on/off ratio increasing exponentially with M1/M2 thickness in the range 1.2–2.4 nm have been obtained, illustrating tunneling mechanism and tunable on/off ratio in the range of 10–104. Further dynamic tunability of on/off ratio by electric field is possible by designing of the atomic M2 layer and M1/M2 interface. This result probes ways in the design of memristors with atomically tunable performance parameters.

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Award ID(s):
1809293 1909292
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Nature Publishing Group
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Communications Physics
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  2. Abstract

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  3. Ever-increasing demands for energy, particularly being environmentally friendly have promoted the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.1Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs), arguably the most well-studied energy storage system, have dominated the energy market since their advent in the 1990s.2However, challenging issues regarding safety, supply of lithium, and high price of lithium resources limit the further advancement of LIBs for large-scale energy storage applications.3Therefore, attention is being concentrated on an alternative electrochemical energy storage device that features high safety, low cost, and long cycle life. Rechargeable aqueous zinc-ion batteries (ZIBs) is considered one of the most promising alternative energy storage systems due to the high theoretical energy and power densities where the multiple electrons (Zn2+) . In addition, aqueous ZIBs are safer due to non-flammable electrolyte (e.g., typically aqueous solution) and can be manufactured since they can be assembled in ambient air conditions.4As an essential component in aqueous Zn-based batteries, the Zn metal anode generally suffers from the growth of dendrites, which would affect battery performance in several ways. Second, the led by the loose structure of Zn dendrite may reduce the coulombic efficiency and shorten the battery lifespan.5

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    Yang, J.; Yin, B.; Sun, Y.; Pan, H.; Sun, W.; Jia, B.; Zhang, S.; Ma, T., Zinc Anode for Mild Aqueous Zinc-Ion Batteries: Challenges, Strategies, and Perspectives.Nanomicro Lett2022,14(1), 42.

    Yang, Q.; Li, Q.; Liu, Z.; Wang, D.; Guo, Y.; Li, X.; Tang, Y.; Li, H.; Dong, B.; Zhi, C., Dendrites in Zn-Based Batteries.Adv Mater2020,32(48), e2001854.


    This work was partially supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Award No. ECCS-1931088. S.L. and H.W.S. acknowledge the support from the Improvement of Measurement Standards and Technology for Mechanical Metrology (Grant No. 22011044) by KRISS.

    Figure 1


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  4. The major focus of artificial intelligence (AI) research is made on biomimetic synaptic processes that are mimicked by functional memory devices in the computer industry [1]. It is urgent to find a memory technology for suiting with Brain-Inspired Computing to break the von Neumann bottleneck which limits the efficiency of conventional computer architectures [2]. Silicon-based flash memory, which currently dominates the market for data storage devices, is facing challenging issues to meet the needs of future data storage device development due to the limitations, such as high-power consumption, high operation voltage, and low retention capacity [1]. The emerging resistive random-access memory (RRAM) has elicited intense research as its simple sandwiched structure, including top electrode (TE) layer, bottom electrode (BE) layer, and an intermediate resistive switching (RS) layer, can store data using RS phenomenon between the high resistance state (HRS) and the low resistance state (LRS). This class of emerging devices is expected to outperform conventional memory devices [3]. Specifically, the advantages of RRAM include low-voltage operation, short programming time, great cyclic stability, and good scalability [4]. Among the materials for RS layer, indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) has attracted attention because of its abundance and high atomic diffusion property of oxygen atoms, transparency, and its easily modulated electrical properties by controlling the stoichiometric ratio of indium and gallium as well as oxygen potential in the sputter gas [5, 6]. Moreover, since the IGZO can be applied to both the thin-film transistor (TFT) channel and RS layer, the IGZO-based fully integrated transparent electronics are very promising [5]. In this work, we proposed transparent IGZO-based RRAMs. First, we chose ITO to serve as both TE and BE to achieve high transmittance in the visible regime of light. All three layers (TE, RS, BE layers) were deposited using a multi-target magnetron sputtering system on glass substrates to demonstrate fully transparent oxide-based devices. I-V characteristics were evaluated by a semiconductor parameter analyzer, and our devices showed typical butterfly curves indicating the bipolar RS property. And the IGZO-based RRAM can survive more than 50 continuous sweeping cycles. The optical transmission analysis was carried out via an UV-Vis spectrometer and the average transmittance around 80% out of entire devices in the visible-light wavelength range, implying high transparency. To investigate the thickness dependence on the properties of RS layer, 50nm, 100nm and 150nm RS layer of IGZO RRAM were fabricated. Also, the oxygen partial pressure during the sputtering of IGZO was varied to optimize the property because the oxygen vacancy concentration governs the RS and RRAM performance. Electrode selection is crucial and can impact the performance of the whole device [7]. Thus, Cu TE was chosen for our second type of device because the diffusion of Cu ions can be beneficial for the formation the conductive filament (CF). Finally, a ~5 nm SiO2 barrier layer was employed between TE and RS layers to confine the diffusion of Cu into the RS layer. At the same time, this SiO2 inserting layer can provide an additional interfacial series resistance in the device to lower the off current, consequently, improve the on/off ratio and whole performance. In conclusion, the transparent IGZO-based RRAMs were established. To tune the property of RS layer, the thickness layer and sputtering conditions of RS were adjusted. In order to engineer the diffusion capability of the TE material to the RS layer and the BE, a set of TE materials and a barrier layer were integrated in IGZO-based RRAM and the performance was compared. Our encouraging results clearly demonstrate that IGZO is a promising material in RRAM applications and overcoming the bottleneck of current memory technologies. 
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    In this work, we proposed SiO2-based memristor and investigated switching behaviors metallized with different reduction potentials by applying pure Cu and Ag, and their alloys with varied ratios. Heavily doped p-type silicon was chosen as BE in order to exclude any effects of the BE ions on the memristor performance. We previously reported that the selection of TE is crucial for achieving a high memory window and stable switching performance. According to the study which compares the roles of Cu (switching stabilizer) and Ag (large switching window performer) TEs for oxide memristors, we have selected the TE materials and their alloys to engineer the SiO2-based memristor characteristics. The Ag TE leads to a larger memory window of the SiO2memristor, but the device shows relatively large variation and less reliability. On the other hand, the Cu TE device presents uniform gradual switching behavior which is in line with our previous report that Cu can be served as a stabilizer, but with small on/off ratio.[9] These distinct performances with Cu and Ag metallization leads us to utilize a Cu/Ag alloy as the TE. Various compositions of Cu/Ag were examined for the optimization of the memristor TEs. With a Cu/Ag alloying TE with optimized ratio, our SiO2based memristor demonstrates uniform switching behavior and memory window for analog switching applications. Also, it shows ideal potentiation and depression synaptic behavior under the positive/negative spikes (pulse train).

    In conclusion, the SiO2memristors with different metallization were established. To tune the property of RS layer, the sputtering conditions of RS were varied. To investigate the influence of TE selections on switching performance of memristor, we integrated Cu, Ag and Cu/Ag alloy as TEs and compared the switch characteristics. Our encouraging results clearly demonstrate that SiO2with Cu/Ag is a promising memristor device with synaptic switching behavior in neuromorphic computing applications.


    This work was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Award No. ECCS-1931088. S.L. and H.W.S. acknowledge the support from the Improvement of Measurement Standards and Technology for Mechanical Metrology (Grant No. 22011044) by KRISS.


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