Understanding Phase Change Memory Reliability and Scaling by Physical Models of the Amorphous Chalcogenide Phase

Abstract

Phase change memory (PCM) devices are based on the electrically-induced change of phase within an active chalcogenide material. PCM features large resistance window, fast threshold/phase switching and high endurance, thus motivating a broad interest as potential Flash replacement and/or nonvolatile storage class memory. Despite the relatively mature progress of research and technology, there is still a wide debate about the ultimate scaling perspective for PCMs. Structural relaxation, crystallization and noise affecting the amorphous chalcogenide phase need to be addressed by accurate physical models for a realistic scaling projection. This work discusses the scaling of PCM devices in terms of the conduction mechanisms and structural stability of the amorphous chalcogenide phase. Resistance window narrowing, current fluctuations, resistance drift and crystallization in the amorphous phase will be explained by a unified model for thermal excitation of the structure by many-phonon phenomena. The downscaling of the reset current, needed to reduce the cell area in memory arrays, and thermal disturb between adjacent cells during reset will be finally addressed to assess the scaling capability of high-density PCM crossbar architectures.

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Correspondence to Daniele Ielmini.

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Ielmini, D. Understanding Phase Change Memory Reliability and Scaling by Physical Models of the Amorphous Chalcogenide Phase. MRS Online Proceedings Library 1251, 501 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-1251-H05-01

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