Electronegative metal dopants improve switching variability in Al(2)O(3 )resistive switching devices

Tan Z. J., Somjit V., TOPARLI Ç., Yildiz B., Fang N.

PHYSICAL REVIEW MATERIALS, vol.6, no.10, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 6 Issue: 10
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1103/physrevmaterials.6.105002
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Compendex, INSPEC
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


Resistive random-access memories are promising for nonvolatile memory and brain-inspired computing applications. High variability and low yield of these devices are key drawbacks hindering reliable training of physical neural networks. In this paper, we show that doping an oxide electrolyte, Al2O3, with electronegative metals makes resistive switching significantly more reproducible, surpassing the reproducibility requirements for obtaining reliable hardware neuromorphic circuits. Based on density functional theory calculations, the underlying mechanism is hypothesized to be the ease of creating oxygen vacancies in the vicinity of electronegative dopants due to the capture of the associated electrons by dopant midgap states and the weakening of Al-O bonds. These oxygen vacancies and vacancy clusters also bind significantly to the dopant, thereby serving as preferential sites and building blocks in the formation of conducting paths. We validate this theory experimentally by implanting different dop ants over a range of electronegativities in devices made of multiple alternating layers of Al2O3 and WN and find superior repeatability and yield with highly electronegative metals, Au, Pt, and Pd. These devices also exhibit a gradual SET transition, enabling multibit switching that is desirable for analog computing.