Modeling of Diffusion and Incorporation of Interstitial Oxygen Ions at the TiN/SiO2 Interface

J Cottom and A Bochkarev and E Olsson and K Patel and M Munde and J Spitaler and MN Popov and M Bosman and AL Shluger, ACS APPLIED MATERIALS & INTERFACES, 11, 36232-36243 (2019).

DOI: 10.1021/acsami.9b10705

Silica-based resistive random access memory devices have become an active research area due to complementary metal oxide semiconductor compatibility and recent dramatic increases in their performance and endurance. In spite of both experimental and theoretical insights gained into the electroforming process, many atomistic aspects of the set and reset operation of these devices are still poorly understood. Recently a mechanism of electroforming process based on the formation of neutral oxygen vacancies (V-O(0)) and interstitial O ions (O-i(2-)) facilitated by electron injection into the oxide has been proposed. In this work, we extend the description of the bulk (O-i(2-)) migration to the interface of amorphous SiO2 with the polycrystaline TiN electrode, using density functional theory simulations. The results demonstrate strong kinetic and thermodynamic drive for the movement of O-i(2-) to the interface, with dramatically reduced incorporation energies and migration barriers close to the interface. The arrival of O-i(2-) at the interface is accompanied by preferential oxidation of undercoordinated Ti sites at the interface, forming a Ti-O layer. We investigate how O ions incorporate into a perfect and defective Sigma 5(012)100 grain boundary (GB) in TiN oriented perpendicular to the interface. Our simulations demonstrate the preferential incorporation of O-i at defects within the TiN GB and their fast diffusion along a passivated grain boundary. They explain how, as a result of electroforming, the system undergoes very significant structural changes with the oxide being significantly reduced, interface being oxidized, and part of the oxygen leaving the system.

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