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We report the energy band alignment of Ge2Sb2Te5 and a variety of common complementary-metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) compatible materials. These materials include silicon, silicon oxide, hafnium oxide, silicon nitride as well as nickel silicide. High-resolution X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy was employed as the main tool to obtain the core-level spectra, the valence band spectra, and the energy loss spectra. A precise determination of the valence band offsets of Ge2Sb2Te5 and the various materials were obtained. The conduction band offsets were then determined. The energy band line-ups of Ge2Sb2Te5 and these CMOS compatible materials were established.
Asymmetric PCRAM structure with the upper contact opening at an offset to the bottom contact opening allowed us to improve the thermal distribution within the phase change layer and lower the reset current to 50% that of a conventional symmetrical structure. In terms of endurance, asymmetric cell lasted for 1.1 × 108 cycles which is at least 10X higher than the conventional symmetrical cell. These results were based on Ge2Sb2Te5 as the phase change material.
In this paper, we used nitrogen doped Ge2Sb2Te5  instead and the thickness of this phase change layer was 100 nm. During the sputtering of Ge2Sb2Te5, the Argon gas flow rate was fixed at 15 sccm while nitrogen flow rates of 0, 3, 4.5 and 6 sccm were introduced each time. Thus N2/Ar gas ratio of 0, 0.2, 0.3 and 0.4 were obtained respectively. After fabrication, the cell endurance of Asymmetric PCRAM cells incorporating Ge2Sb2Te5 doped with varying concentrations of nitrogen was tested. During testing, the PCRAM was repeatedly Reset/Set and the resistances of the two states were recorded at every 100k cycles. The cell was considered to be functioning well when its Reset/Set resistance ratio was greater than 10. From experiments, N-doped asymmetric cell with N2/Ar gas ratio of 0.2 lasted 2.4 × 1010 cycles which is 1000 times that of a conventional symmetrical PCRAM cells. The N2 doping concentration was also shown to be optimized when the N2/Ar gas ratio was fixed at 0.2. Higher doping concentrations with N2/Ar gas ratio of 0.3 and 0.4 decreased the cell endurance to 8.8 × 108 and 7.6 × 108 cycles respectively. Excessive doped nitrogen atoms might have degraded the phase change material, causing breakdown to occur sooner.
N-doped conventional symmetrical PCRAM was also fabricated and its overwrite cycles were measured only up to 1.2 × 109. With better thermal confinement, asymmetric PCRAM has proved to be better in endurance too. The above results were based on asymmetric PCRAM cells with 1 µm offset.
 H. Horii et al, “A Novel Cell Technology Using N-doped GeSbTe Films For Phase Change RAM”, p. 177-178, VLSI Tech. 2003
Switched phase change material in Phase Change Random Access Memory (PCRAM) is confined within a solid surrounding. As a result of mechanical properties and microstructure differences between the crystalline and the amorphous phases, strains and stresses are generated and may degrade the performance of PCRAM devices. This paper investigated the crystallization-induced stress in phase change Ge2Sb2Te5 (GST) nano film. The electric-thermal and thermo-mechanical simulation results show that the increases of both of the Young's modulus and Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (CTE) are responsible for the stress generation upon crystallization. The XRD studies correlate the strains and stresses with the lattice deformation in crystalline GST films.
A thermal modeling based on Finite Element Method (FEM) was used to simulate Phase Change Random Access Memory (PCRAM) cells. The factors affecting temperature distribution of a PCRAM cell structure such as geometry, device structure and the properties of the individual materials were investigated. The results of the analysis provided the fundamental design of a novel cell structure which has a better performance and reliability.
The electrical induced structural transformation of Ge2Sb2Te5 thin film in phase change memory device was investigated using micro-Raman spectroscopy and transmission electronic microscopy (TEM). Selected area electron diffraction (SAD) pattern showed that the electrical-induced Ge2Sb2Te5 film was crystallized into a face-centered cubic structure. Micro-Raman spectra show that the Ge2Sb2Te5 active layer at the high resistance state exhibited two minor peaks superposed on the broad peak after several switch cycles, which is identical to those of the Ge2Sb2Te5 active layer at the low resistance state. This is most likely due to the accumulation of segregated crystallites. TEM results suggest that the existence of nano-sized nuclei clusters resulted in the reduced resistance for the Ge2Sb2Te5 active layer at the high resistance state after first several switches. The dependence of resistance on the cycle number indicates that the deterioration of the Ge2Sb2Te5 active layer is resulted from the incomplete amorphization process, which is consistent with the micro-Raman results.
Time resolved imaging has been used to investigate the whole process of the crystallization induced by intense 130 femtosecond laser pulses in as-deposited Ge1Sb2Te4 films. With an average fluence of 24mJ/cm2 a transient non-equilibrium state of the excited material is formed within 1 picosecond. The results are consistent with an electronically induced non-thermal phase transition.
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