Phase-Change and Carbon Based Materials for Advanced Memory and Computing Devices
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
Journal papers in preparation based on content of the thesis.
The aggressive scaling of CMOS technology, to reduce device size while also increasing device performance, has reached a point where continuing improvement is becoming increasingly problematic and alternative routes for the development of future memory and processing devices may be necessary; in this thesis the use of phase-change and carbon based materials as one such alternative route is investigated. As pointed out by Ovshinsky [1, 2] some phase-change material should be capable of non-binary arithmetic processing, multi-value logic and biological (neuromorphic) type processing. In this thesis, generic, nanometre-sized, phase-change pseudodevices were fabricated and utilised to perform various types of computational operations for the first time, including addition, subtraction, division, parallel factorization and logic using a novel resistive switching accumulator-type regime in the electrical domain. The same accumulator response is also shown to provide an electronic mimic of an integrate-and-fire type neuron. The accumulator-type regime uses fast electrical pulses to gradually crystallize a phase-change device in a finite number of steps and does not require a multilevel detection scheme. The phase-change materials used in this study were protected by a capping layer of sputtered amorphous carbon. It was found that this amorphous carbon layer also underwent a form of resistive switching when subjected to electrical pulses. In particular, sputtered amorphous carbon layers were found to switch from an initially high resistivity state to a low resistivity state when a voltage pulse was locally applied using a Conductive Atomic Force Microscope (CAFM) tip. Further experiments on amorphous carbon vertical pseudo-devices and lithographically defined planar devices showed that it has potential as a new material for Resistive Random Access Memory (ReRam) applications. The switching mechanism was identified as clustering of the sp2 hybridized carbon sites induced by Joule heating. It was not possible to reset the devices back to their initial high resistivity state presumably due to the highly conductive nature of sputtered amorphous carbon.
Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering