Investigation of Inter-Diffusion in Bilayer GeTe/SnSe Phase Change Memory Films

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A metal-chalcogenide layer, SnSe, is inserted between the memory layer GeTe and the top electrode to form a phase change memory cell. The GeTe layer exhibits ovonic threshold switching at a threshold field of ~ 110 V/μm. For subsequent implementation into applications and reliability, material inter-diffusion and sublimation are examined in bilayer phase change films of GeTe/SnSe. Transmission electron microscopy and parallel electron energy loss spectroscopy analyses reveal Sn migration to the GeTe layer, which is responsible for lowering the rhombohedral to cubic structural transformation temperature in GeTe. Incongruent sublimation of SnSe and GeTe is observed at temperatures higher than 500 °C. Severe volatilization of Se results in the separation of a metallic Sn phase. The use of Al2O3 as a capping layer has been found to mitigate these effects.