Performance Degradation of Nanofilament Switching Due to Joule Heat Dissipation
Al-Mamun, Mohammad Shah
Orlowski, Marius K.
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When a memory cell of a Resistive Random Access Memory (ReRAM) crossbar array is switched repeatedly, a considerable amount of Joule heat is dissipated in the cell, and the heat may spread to neighboring cells that share one of the electrode lines with the heat source device. The remote heating of a probed memory cell by another cell allows separating the influence of temperature effects from the impact of the electric field on the resistive switching kinetics. We find that the cell-to-cell heat transfer causes severe degradation of electrical performance of the unheated neighboring cells. A metric for the thermal degradation of the I–V characteristics is established by a specific conditioning of a so-called “marginal” device used as a temperature-sensitive probe of electrical performance degradation. We find that even neighboring cells with no common metal electrode lines with the heated cell suffer substantial electrical performance degradation provided that intermediate cells of the array are set into a conductive state establishing a continuous thermal path via nanofilaments between the heated and probed cells. The cell-to-cell thermal cross-talk poses a serious electro-thermal reliability problem for the operation of a memory crossbar array requiring modified write/erase algorithms to program the cells (a thermal sneak path effect). The thermal cross-talk appears to be more severe in nanometer-sized memory arrays even if operated with ultra-fast, nanosecond-wide voltage/current pulses.