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Phase-change mechanism for non-volatile semiconductor memories

Posted: 22 Dec 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:phase-change? non volatile memory? semiconductor?

Non-volatile memories (NVM) are playing an important role in the semiconductor market, thanks in particular to flash, which is used mainly in cellphones and other types of electronic portable equipment. In the coming years, portable systems will demand even more NVM with high density and very high writing throughput for data storage application, or with fast random access for code execution.

While continued research on floating gate techniques should extend the current flash technology capability through the end of this decade, interest is increasing in new memory storage mechanisms and materials that have promise for scaling through at least the end of the next decade.

Among the different NVMs based on storage mechanisms alternative to the floating-gate concept, phase-change memory (PCM) is one of the most promising candidates, having the potential to improve the performance compared with flash as well as to be scalable beyond flash technology.

Some alloys based on the group VI elements (referred as chalcogenides) have the interesting characteristic of stability at room temperature both in the amorphous and in the crystalline phase. In particular, the most promising are the GeSbTe alloys, which follow a pseudobinary composition (between GeTe and Sb2Te3), referred to as GST.

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