Development Of Instrumentation For Electrical Switching Studies And Investigations On Switching And Thermal Behavior Of Certain Glassy Chalcogenides
Prashanth, S B Bhanu
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The absence of long-range order in glassy chalcogenides provides the convenience of changing the elemental ratios and hence the properties over a wide range. The interesting properties exhibited by chalcogenide glasses make them suitable materials for Phase Change Memories (PCM) and other applications such as infrared optical devices, photo-receptors, sensors, waveguides, etc. One of the most remarkable properties of chalcogenides is their electrical switching behavior. Reversible (threshold type) or irreversible (memory type) switching from a high resistance OFF state to a low resistance ON state in glassy chalcogenides occurs at a critical voltage called the threshold/switching voltage (VT). Investigations on the switching behavior and its composition dependence throw light on the local structural effects of amorphous chalcogenide semiconductors and also help us in identifying suitable samples for PCM applications. Thermal analysis by Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) has been extensively used in glass science, particularly for measurements of thermal parameters such as enthalpy of relaxation, specific heat change, etc., near glass transition. Quite recently, the conventional DSC has been sophisticated by employing a composite temperature profile for heating, resulting in the Temperature Modulated DSC (TMDSC) or Alternating DSC (ADSC). Measurements made using ADSC reveal thermal details with enhanced accuracy and resolution, and this has lead to a better understanding of the nature of glass transition. The thermal parameters obtained using DSC/ADSC are also vital for understanding the electrical switching behavior of glassy chalcogenides. The motivation of this thesis was twofold: The first was to develop a novel, high voltage programmable power supply for electrical switching analysis of samples exhibiting high VT, and second to investigate the thermal and electrical switching behavior of certain Se-Te based glasses with Ge and Sb additives. The thesis contains seven chapters: Chapter 1: This chapter provides an overview of amorphous semiconductors (a-SC) with an emphasis on preparation and properties of glassy chalcogenides. The various structural models and topological thresholds of a-SC are discussed with relations to the glass forming ability of materials. The electronic band models and defect states are also dealt with. The essentials of electrical switching behavior of chalcogenides are discussed suggesting the electronic nature of switching and the role of thermal properties on switching. Chapter 2: The second chapter essentially deals with theory and practice of the experimental techniques adopted in the thesis work. The details of the melt-quenching method of synthesizing glassy samples are provided. Considering the importance, the theory of thermal analysis by DSC & ADSC, are discussed in detail, highlighting the advantages of the latter method adopted in the thesis work. The instrumentation and electronics, developed and used for electrical switching analysis are also introduced at a block diagram level. Finally, the methods used for structural analysis are briefed. Chapter 3: This chapter is dedicated to the design and development details of the programmable High Voltage dc Power Supply (HVPS: 1750 V, 45 mA) undertaken in the thesis work. The guidelines used for power supply topology selection, the specifications and block diagram of the HVPS are provided in that sequence. The operation of the HVPS is discussed using the circuit diagram approach. The details of software control are also given. The performance validations of the HVPS, undertaken through voltage & current regulation tests, step & frequency response tests are discussed. Finally, the sample-test results on the electrical switching behavior of representative Al20As16Te64 and Ge25Te65Se10 samples, obtained using both the current & voltage sweep options of the HVPS developed are illustrated. Chapter 4: Results of the thermally induced transitions governed by structural changes which are driven by network connectivity in the GexSe35-xTe65 (17 ≤ x ≤ 25) glasses, as revealed by ADSC experiments, are discussed in this chapter. It is found that the GexSe35-xTe65 glasses with x ≤ 20 exhibit two crystallization exotherms (Tc1 & Tc2), whereas those with x ≥ 20.5, show a single crystallization reaction upon heating (Tc). The glass transition temperature of GexSe35-xTe65 glasses is found to show a linear, but not-steep increase, indicating a progressive and not an appreciable build-up in network connectivity with Ge addition. The exothermic reaction at Tc1 has been found to correspond to the partial crystallization of the glass into hexagonal Te and the reaction at Tc2 is associated with the additional crystallization of rhombohedral Ge-Te phase. It is also found that the first crystallization temperature Tc1 of GexSe35-xTe65 glasses of lower Ge concentrations (with x ≤ 20), increases progressively with Ge content and eventually merges with Tc2 at x = 20.5 (<r> = 2.41); this behavior has been understood on the basis of the reduction in Te-Te bonds of lower energy and an increase in Ge-Te bonds of higher energy, with increasing Ge content. Chapter 5: This chapter deals with the electrical switching studies on GexSe35-xTe65 (17 ≤ x ≤ 25) glasses, with an emphasis on the role of network connectivity/rigidity on the switching behavior. It is found that the switching voltage (VT) increases with Ge content, exhibiting a sudden jump at x=20, the Rigidity Percolation Threshold (RPT) of the system. In addition, the switching behavior changes from memory to threshold type at the RPT and the threshold switching is found to be repetitive for more than 1500 cycles. Chapter 6: In this chapter, the results of thermal analysis (by ADSC) and electrical switching investigations on SbxSe55-xTe45 (2 ≤ x ≤ 9) are discussed. It is found that the addition of trivalent Sb contributes very meagerly to network growth but directly affects the structural relaxation effects at Tg. Further, SbxSe55-xTe45 glasses exhibit memory type electrical switching, which is understood on the basis of poor thermal stability of the samples. The metallicity factor is observed to outweigh the network factor in the composition dependence of VT of SbxSe55-xTe45 glasses. Chapter 7: The chapter 7 summarizes the results obtained in the thesis work and provides the scope for future work. The references are cited in the text along with the first author’s name and year of publication, and are listed at the end of each chapter in alphabetical order.
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