Retention of programmable metallization cells during ionizing radiation exposure

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Description

Non-volatile memory (NVM) has become a staple in the everyday life of consumers. NVM manifests inside cell phones, laptops, and most recently, wearable tech such as smart watches. NAND Flash has been an excellent solution to conditions requiring fast, compact

Non-volatile memory (NVM) has become a staple in the everyday life of consumers. NVM manifests inside cell phones, laptops, and most recently, wearable tech such as smart watches. NAND Flash has been an excellent solution to conditions requiring fast, compact NVM. Current technology nodes are nearing the physical limits of scaling, preventing flash from improving. To combat the limitations of flash and to appease consumer demand for progressively faster and denser NVM, new technologies are needed. One possible candidate for the replacement of NAND Flash is programmable metallization cells (PMC). PMC are a type of resistive memory, meaning that they do not rely on charge storage to maintain a logic state. Depending on their application, it is possible that devices containing NVM will be exposed to harsh radiation environments. As part of the process for developing a novel memory technology, it is important to characterize the effects irradiation has on the functionality of the devices.

This thesis characterizes the effects that ionizing γ-ray irradiation has on the retention of the programmed resistive state of a PMC. The PMC devices tested used Ge30Se70 doped with Ag as the solid electrolyte layer and were fabricated by the thesis author in a Class 100 clean room. Individual device tiles were wire bonded into ceramic packages and tested in a biased and floating contact scenario.

The first scenario presented shows that PMC devices are capable of retaining their programmed state up to the maximum exposed total ionizing dose (TID) of 3.1 Mrad(Si). In this first scenario, the contacts of the PMC devices were left floating during exposure. The second scenario tested shows that the PMC devices are capable of retaining their state until the maximum TID of 10.1 Mrad(Si) was reached. The contacts in the second scenario were biased, with a 50 mV read voltage applied to the anode contact. Analysis of the results show that Ge30Se70 PMC are ionizing radiation tolerant and can retain a programmed state to a higher TID than NAND Flash memory.