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Russia, ­.s. Get Closer to ­niversal Memory

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The cross section of the non-volatile memory structure shows a polycrystalline fused film of hafnium and zirconium oxides grown on a highly doped silicon substrate.

Researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, the University of Nebraska, and the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, are working on the development of a "universal" non-volatile memory.

Credit: Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

A joint effort by researchers at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), the University of Nebraska, and Switzerland's University of Lausanne seeks a "universal" non-volatile memory composed of an ultra-thin ferroelectric film grown on silicon.

"We grow polycrystalline [rather than epitaxial] alloyed hafnium-zirco­nium [Hf-Zr] oxide films, which retain their ferroelectric properties down to thicknesses of under three nanometers," notes MIPT researcher Andrei Zenkevich.

The compatibility of this material with silicon substrates enables existing complementary metal-oxide semiconductor fabrication plants to transition to the Hf-Zr oxide material.

The next step for the researchers is to construct prototype ferroelectric tunnel junctions with the films to show they can be used in actual memory chips.

"The work to demonstrate the so-called tunneling electroresistance effect in a prototypic memory device is underway now," Zenkevich says. "Judging from pulsed measurements of the polarization reversal, the prospective write time is within the nanosecond range."

Ferroelectric tunnel junctions are extremely small, yet can retain their values indefinitely without consuming power. The material could potentially be adapted to function like an artificial neuromorphic synapse so it can be incorporated into both conventional computers and future cognitive computers.

From EE Times
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