Thermoelectric effects are envisioned to reduce programming currents in nanopillar phase-change memory (PCM) cells. However, due to the inherent symmetry in such a structure, the contribution due to thermoelectric effects on programming currents is minimal. In this paper, we propose a hybrid PCM structure, which incorporates a twofold asymmetry specifically aimed to favorably enhance the thermoelectric effects. The first asymmetry is introduced via an interface layer of low thermal conductivity and high negative Seebeck coefficient, such as polycrystalline SiGe, between the bottom electrode contact and the active region comprising the phase-change material. This results in an enhanced Peltier heating of the active material. The second one is introduced structurally via a taper that results in an angle-dependent Thomson heating within the active region. Various device geometries are analyzed using 2-D-axis-symmetric simulations to predict the effect on programming currents as well as for different thicknesses of the interface layer. A programming current reduction of up to 60% is predicted for specific cell geometries. Remarkably, we find that due to an interplay of Thomson cooling in the electrode and the asymmetric heating profile inside the active region, the predicted programming current reduction is resilient to fabrication variability.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering
- phase-change memory (PCM)
- programming current