Journal of Applied Physics

Electrical and structural properties of binary Ga-Sb phase change memory alloys

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Material properties of Ga-Sb binary alloy thin films deposited under ultra-high vacuum conditions were studied for analog phase change memory (PCM) applications. Crystallization of this alloy was shown to occur in the temperature range of 180-264 °C, with activation energy >2.5 eV depending on the composition. X-ray diffraction (XRD) studies showed phase separation upon crystallization into two phases, Ga-doped A7 antimony and cubic zinc-blende GaSb. Synchrotron in situ XRD analysis revealed that crystallization into the A7 phase is accompanied by Ga out-diffusion from the grains. X-ray absorption fine structure studies of the local structure of these alloys demonstrated a bond length decrease with a stable coordination number of 4 upon amorphous-to-crystalline phase transformation. Mushroom cell structures built with Ga-Sb alloys on ø110 nm TiN heater show a phase change material resistance switching behavior with resistance ratio >100 under electrical pulse measurements. TEM and Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS) studies of the Ga-Sb cells after ∼100 switching cycles revealed that partial SET or intermediate resistance states are attained by the variation of the grain size of the material as well as the Ga content in the A7 phase. A mechanism for a reversible composition control is proposed for analog cell performance. These results indicate that Te-free Ga-Sb binary alloys are potential candidates for analog PCM applications.