The feasibility of a storage element with inherent rectifying or isolation properties for use in passive memory arrays has been demonstrated using a programmable metallization cell structure with a doped (n-type) silicon electrode. The Cu/Cu-SiO2/n-Si cell used in this study switches via the formation of a nanoscale Cu filament in the Cu-SiO2 film which results in the creation of a Cu/n-Si Schottky contact with soft reverse breakdown characteristics. The reverse bias leakage current in the on-state diode is dependent on the programming current employed as this influences the area of the electrodeposit and hence the area of the Cu/n-Si junction. The programming current also controls the on-state resistance of the device, allowing multi-level cell (MLC) operation, in which discrete resistance levels are used to represent multiple logical bits in each physical cell. The Cu/Cu- SiO2/n-Si elements with heavily doped silicon electrodes were readily erasable at voltage less than -5 V which allows them to be re-programmed. Lightly doped silicon electrode devices were not able to be erased due to their very high reverse breakdown voltage but exhibited extremely low leakage current levels potentially allowing them to be used in low energy one-time programmable arrays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)817-826
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Physics A: Materials Science and Processing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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