"Picosecond Electric-Field-Induced Threshold Switching in Phase-Change Materials"

Peter Zalden: Michael J. Shu, Frank Chen, Xiaoxi Wu, Yi Zhu, Haidan Wen, Scott Johnston, Zhi-Xun Shen, Patrick Landreman, Mark Brongersma, Scott W. Fong, H.-S. Philip Wong, Meng-Ju Sher, Peter Jost, Matthias Kaes, Martin Salinga, Alexander von Hoegen, Matthias Wuttig, and Aaron M. Lindenberg; Physical Review Letters, 08/05/16.

Additional Authors: Michael J. Shu, Frank Chen, Xiaoxi Wu, Yi Zhu, Haidan Wen, Scott Johnston, Zhi-Xun Shen, Patrick Landreman, Mark Brongersma, Scott W. Fong, H.-S. Philip Wong, Meng-Ju Sher, Peter Jost, Matthias Kaes, Martin Salinga, Alexander von Hoegen, Matthias Wuttig, and Aaron M. Lindenberg

Abstract:

Many chalcogenide glasses undergo a breakdown in electronic resistance above a critical field strength. Known as threshold switching, this mechanism enables field-induced crystallization in emerging phasechange memory. Purely electronic as well as crystal nucleation assisted models have been employed to explain the electronic breakdown. Here, picosecond electric pulses are used to excite amorphous Ag4In3Sb67Te26. Field-dependent reversible changes in conductivity and pulse-driven crystallization are observed. The present results show that threshold switching can take place within the electric pulse on subpicosecond time scales—faster than crystals can nucleate. This supports purely electronic models of threshold switching and reveals potential applications as an ultrafast electronic switch.