Cu impurity in insulators and in metal-insulator-metal structures: Implications for resistance-switching random access memories

SC Pandey and R Meade and GS Sandhu, JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS, 117, 054504 (2015).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4907578

We present numerical results from atomistic simulations of Cu in SiO2 and Al2O3, with an emphasis on the thermodynamic, kinetic, and electronic properties. The calculated properties of Cu impurity at various concentrations (9.91 x 10(20) cm(-3) and 3.41 x 10(22) cm(-3)) in bulk oxides are presented. The metal-insulator interfaces result in up to a similar to 4 eV reduction in the formation energies relative to the crystalline bulk. Additionally, the importance of Cu-Cu interaction in lowering the chemical potential is introduced. These concepts are then discussed in the context of formation and stability of localized conductive paths in resistance-switching Random Access Memories (RRAM-M). The electronic density of states and non-equilibrium transmission through these localized paths are studied, confirming conduction by showing three orders of magnitude increase in the electron transmission. The dynamic behavior of the conductive paths is investigated with atomistic drift-diffusion calculations. Finally, the paper concludes with a molecular dynamics simulation of a RRAM-M cell that attempts to combine the aforementioned phenomena in one self- consistent model. (C) 2015 AIP Publishing LLC.

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