Journal of Applied Physics

Extracting the temperature distribution on a phase-change memory cell during crystallization

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Phase-change memory (PCM) devices are enabled by amorphization- and crystallization-induced changes in the devices' electrical resistances. Amorphization is achieved by melting and quenching the active volume using short duration electrical pulses (∼ns). The crystallization (set) pulse duration, however, is much longer and depends on the cell temperature reached during the pulse. Hence, the temperature-dependent crystallization process of the phase-change materials at the device level has to be well characterized to achieve fast PCM operations. A main challenge is determining the cell temperature during crystallization. Here, we report extraction of the temperature distribution on a lateral PCM cell during a set pulse using measured voltage-current characteristics and thermal modelling. The effect of the thermal properties of materials on the extracted cell temperature is also studied, and a better cell design is proposed for more accurate temperature extraction. The demonstrated study provides promising results for characterization of the temperature-dependent crystallization process within a cell.