Investigations On Certain Tellurium Based Bulk Chalcogenide Glasses And Amorphous Chalcogenide Films Having Phase Change Memory (PCM) Applications
Chalcogenide glass based Phase Change Memories (PCMs) are being considered recently as promising alternatives to conventional non-volatile Random Access Memories (NVRAMs). PCMs offer high performance & low power consumption, in addition to other advantages, such as high scalability, high endurance and compatibility with complementary metal oxide semiconductors (CMOS) technologies. Basically PCM is a resistance variable non-volatile memory in which the memory bit state is defined by the resistance of the material. In this case, the initial ‘OFF’ state (logic zero) corresponds to the high resistance amorphous state and the logic 1 or ‘ON’ state corresponds to low resistance crystalline state. The present thesis work deals with electrical, thermal, mechanical and optical characterization of certain tellurium based chalcogenide glasses in bulk and thin film form for phase change memory applications. A comparative study has been done on the electrical switching behavior of Ge-Te-Se & Ge-Te-Si amorphous thin film samples with their bulk counterparts. Further, electrical switching and thermal studies have been undertaken on bulk Ge-Te-Bi and Ge-Te-Sn series of samples. The composition dependence of switching voltages of bulk and thin film samples studied has been explained on the basis of different factors responsible for electrical switching. The thesis contains ten chapters: Chapter 1 deals with a brief introduction on chalcogenides and their applicability in phase change memories. The glass transition phenomenon, synthesis of chalcogenide alloys, different structural models of amorphous semiconductors and electrical switching behavior are also discussed in detail in this chapter. Further, a brief description of optical and mechanical properties along with the principles of few characterization techniques used is discussed. Also, a brief overview on PCM application of chalcogenides is presented. The second chapter provides the details of various experimental techniques used to measure electrical, thermal, optical and mechanical properties of few tellurium based chalcogenide glassy systems. In the third chapter, the electrical switching behavior of amorphous Al23Te77 thin film devices, deposited in co-planar geometry, has been discussed. It is found that these samples exhibit memory type electrical switching. Scanning Electron Microscopic studies show the formation of a crystalline filament in the electrode region which is responsible for switching of the device from high resistance OFF state to low resistance ON state. The switching behavior of thin film Al-Te samples is found to be similar to that of bulk samples, with the threshold fields of bulk samples being higher. This has been understood on the basis of higher thermal conductance in bulk, which reduces the Joule heating and temperature rise in the electrode region. Electrical switching and thermal behavior of bulk; melt quenched Ge18Te82-xBix glasses (1 ≤ x ≤ 4) are presented in chapter 4. Ge-Te-Bi glasses have been found to exhibit memory type electrical switching behavior, which is in agreement with the lower thermal diffusivity values of these samples. A linear variation in switching voltages (also known as threshold voltages) (Vt) has been found with increase in thickness. The switching voltages have been found to decrease with an increase in temperature which is due to the decrease in the activation energy for crystallization at higher temperatures. Further, Vt of Ge18Te82-xBix glasses have been found to decrease with the increase in Bi content, indicating that in the Ge-Te-Bi system, the resistivity of the additive has a stronger role to play in the composition dependence of Vt, in comparison with the network connectivity and rigidity factors. In addition, the composition dependence of crystallization activation energy has been found to show a decrease with an increase in Bi content. X-ray diffraction studies on thermally crystallized samples reveal the presence of hexagonal Te, GeTe and Bi2Te3 phases. The fifth chapter deals with the electrical switching studies and optical band gap measurements on GexSe35-xTe65 (17 ≤ x ≤ 23) amorphous thin film samples. These thin film samples coated with sandwich geometry are found to switch with very low voltages as compared to bulk samples of the same chalcogenide glasses. The switching voltages and optical band gap are found to increase with the addition of Ge at the expense of Se. High structural cross linking with progressive addition of 4-fold coordinated Ge atoms could be the one of the reasons of increasing switching voltage and stronger Ge-Se bond strength could be the reason of increasing band gap for these chalcogenide glasses. In chapter 6, electrical switching studies on amorphous Ge15Te85-xSix (1 ≤ x ≤ 6) thin film samples have been described and the results are compared with their bulk counterparts. Similar trend has been found for both bulk and film samples when the threshold field is varied with composition. Optical band gap has been measured as a function of composition for these films, which also shows a behavior similar to that of switching voltages. The increasing trend in the variation with composition of electrical switching voltages and optical band gap are due to the increase in network connectivity and rigidity as Si atoms are incorporated into the Ge-Te system. Chapter 7 summarizes the electrical switching and glass forming ability of the Ge-Te-Sn glasses of two different composition tie-lines, namely Ge15Te85-xSnx and Ge17Te83-xSnx. Glasses belonging to both the series have been found to exhibit memory type of electrical switching behavior. The thickness dependence of threshold voltages is also found to support the memory switching behavior of the system. Further, ADSC studies are undertaken to explore the thermal behavior of these glasses which indicates that the crystallization tendency increases as Sn concentration is increased in the Ge-Te network. XRD studies done on two samples from both the series, reveal the fact that Sn atoms do not take part actively to enhance the network connectivity and rigidity. The composition dependence of crystallization temperature, metallicity factor and results of XRD studies are put together to explain the variation with composition of threshold voltages for both the series of samples. In chapter 8, investigations on the electrical switching behavior of Ge15Te85-xSnx (1 ≤ x ≤ 5) and Ge17Te83-xSnx (1 ≤ x ≤ 4) amorphous thin films have been discussed. Both the series of samples have been found to exhibit memory type of electrical switching behavior. The composition dependence of threshold voltage shows a decreasing trend, which has been explained on the basis of the Chemically Ordered Network (CON) model, bond strength and the metallicity factor. The optical band gap variation of both the series also exhibits a similar decreasing trend with composition. The observed behavior has been understood on the basis of higher atomic radius of Sn atom than Ge atom, which makes the energy difference between bonding and anti bonding state less at band edge. Chapter 9 deals with the nano-indentation studies on Ge15Te85-xSix (0 ≤ x ≤ 9) bulk glasses. The composition dependence of young’s modulus and hardness is studied systematically in this glassy system. The density of the samples of different compositions has also been measured, which strongly supports the variation of Young’s Modulus and hardness with composition. The composition dependence of mechanical properties of Ge-Te-Si samples has been understood on the basis of the presence of an intermediate phase and a thermally reversing window in this glassy system. A summary of the significant results obtained in the present thesis work is presented in the last chapter along with the scope for future work.
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