Carta, D.; Guttmann, P.; Regoutz, A.; Khiat, A.; Serb, A.; Gupta, I.; Mehonic, A.; Buckwell, M.; Hudziak, S.; Kenyon, A. J.; Prodromakis, T.: X-ray spectromicroscopy investigation of soft and hard breakdown in RRAM devices. Nanotechnology 27 (2016), p. 345705/1-11
Open Access Version

Resistive random access memory (RRAM) is considered an attractive candidate for next generation memory devices due to its competitive scalability, low-power operation and high switching speed. The technology however, still faces several challenges that overall prohibit its industrial translation, such as low yields, large switching variability and ultimately hard breakdown due to long-term operation or high-voltage biasing. The latter issue is of particular interest, because it ultimately leads to device failure. In this work, we have investigated the physicochemical changes that occur within RRAM devices as a consequence of soft and hard breakdown by combining full-field transmission x-ray microscopy with soft x-ray spectroscopic analysis performed on lamella samples. The high lateral resolution of this technique (down to 25 nm) allows the investigation of localized nanometric areas underneath permanent damage of the metal top electrode. Results show that devices after hard breakdown present discontinuity in the active layer, Pt inclusions and the formation of crystalline phases such as rutile, which indicates that the temperature increased locally up to 1000 K.