Switching operation and degradation of resistive random access memory composed of tungsten oxide and copper investigated using in-situ TEM.

Research paper by Masashi M Arita, Akihito A Takahashi, Yuuki Y Ohno, Akitoshi A Nakane, Atsushi A Tsurumaki-Fukuchi, Yasuo Y Takahashi

Indexed on: 28 Nov '15Published on: 28 Nov '15Published in: Scientific Reports


In-situ transmission electron microscopy (in-situ TEM) was performed to investigate the switching operation of a resistive random access memory (ReRAM) made of copper, tungsten oxide and titanium nitride (Cu/WOx/TiN). In the first Set (Forming) operation to initialize the device, precipitation appeared inside the WOx layer. It was presumed that a Cu conducting filament was formed, lowering the resistance (on-state). The Reset operation induced a higher resistance (the off-state). No change in the microstructure was identified in the TEM images. Only when an additional Reset current was applied after switching to the off-state could erasure of the filament be seen (over-Reset). Therefore, it was concluded that structural change relating to the resistance switch was localized in a very small area around the filament. With repeated switching operations and increasing operational current, the WOx/electrode interfaces became indistinct. At the same time, the resistance of the off-state gradually decreased. This is thought to be caused by Cu condensation at the interfaces because of leakage current through the area other than through the filament. This will lead to device degradation through mechanisms such as endurance failure. This is the first accelerated aging test of ReRAM achieved using in-situ TEM.