"Phase-change materials are currently the most promising class of materials to be used as the next generation of memory. Their unique set of properties enables them to act as fast, reliable and durable, non-volatile memory. Research groups have demonstrated an excellent scaling behavior of phase-change memory and several large scale memory chips have been produced already demonstrating the outstanding potential of the technology.
The final step to commercialize phase-change memory and outcompete the current Flash memory is the implementation of multi-level storage. The major obstacle for this is the resistance increase over time which occurs in the amorphous phase of phase-change materials. On the other hand, to compete with DRAM, the transient behavior of the field dependent conductivity in amorphous phase-change materials (a-PCM) is crucial to be understood on a fundamental level.
The aim of this project is to correlate the underlying physics of the aforementioned phenomena all the way from the electrical transport properties to the structure via the density-of-states (DoS) of the a-PCM. Direct electrical measurements that are going to be performed are temperature dependent (photo)-conductivity and Seebeck effect. DoS spectroscopy will be performed via infrared and field effect spectroscopy and the modulated photo-current method. The latter will also give insight into the dynamics of defects present in the material, which is strongly linked to the transient behavior of the a-PCM. Finally, the link to the structure will be concluded by MD simulations.
Such a broad study demands a variety of competencies, and the need to perform those measurements in the technological relevant melt-quenched phase requires nano-structured devices. For this reason, IBM Research - Zurich and RWTH Aachen University team up since this combines nanotechnological competence on one side with a deep understanding of the materials science of phase-change materials on the other side."
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