The discovery of the ferroelectric orthorhombic phase in doped hafnia films has sparked immense research efforts. Presently, a major obstacle for hafnia's use in high‐endurance memory applications like nonvolatile random‐access memories is its unstable ferroelectric response during field cycling. Different mechanisms are proposed to explain this instability including field‐induced phase change, electron trapping, and oxygen vacancy diffusion. However, none of these is able to fully explain the complete behavior and interdependencies of these phenomena. Up to now, no complete root cause for fatigue, wake‐up, and imprint effects is presented. In this study, the first evidence for the presence of singly and doubly positively charged oxygen vacancies in hafnia–zirconia films using thermally stimulated currents and impedance spectroscopy is presented. Moreover, it is shown that interaction of these defects with electrons at the interfaces to the electrodes may cause the observed instability of the ferroelectric performance.
Ferroelectric hafnium oxides are poised to impact a wide range of microelectronic applications owing to their superior thickness scaling of ferroelectric stability and compatibility with mainstream semiconductors and fabrication processes. For broad-scale impact, long-term performance and reliability of devices using hafnia will require knowledge of the phases present and how they vary with time and use. In this Perspective article, the importance of phases present on device performance is discussed, including the extent to which specific classes of devices can tolerate phase impurities. Following, the factors and mechanisms that are known to influence phase stability, including substituents, crystallite size, oxygen point defects, electrode chemistry, biaxial stress, and electrode capping layers, are highlighted. Discussions will focus on the importance of considering both neutral and charged oxygen vacancies as stabilizing agents, the limited biaxial strain imparted to a hafnia layer by adjacent electrodes, and the strong correlation of biaxial stress with resulting polarization response. Areas needing additional research, such as the necessity for a more quantitative means to distinguish the metastable tetragonal and orthorhombic phases, quantification of oxygen vacancies, and calculation of band structures, including defect energy levels for pure hafnia and stabilized with substituents, are emphasized.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- American Institute of Physics
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Applied Physics Letters
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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