Advanced Functional Materials

Measurement of Onset of Structural Relaxation in Melt-Quenched Phase Change Materials

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Chalcogenide phase change materials enable non-volatile, low-latency storage-class memory. They are also being explored for new forms of computing such as neuromorphic and in-memory computing. A key challenge, however, is the temporal drift in the electrical resistance of the amorphous states that encode data. Drift, caused by the spontaneous structural relaxation of the newly recreated melt-quenched amorphous phase, has consistently been observed to have a logarithmic dependence in time. Here, it is shown that this observation is valid only in a certain observable timescale. Using threshold-switching voltage as the measured variable, based on temperature-dependent and short timescale electrical characterization, the onset of drift is experimentally measured. This additional feature of the structural relaxation dynamics serves as a new benchmark to appraise the different classical models to explain drift.