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Reducing the stochasticity of crystal nucleation to enable subnanosecond memory writing

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Science  09 Nov 2017:
eaao3212
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao3212

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Abstract

Operation speed is a key challenge in phase-change random-access memory (PCRAM) technology, especially for achieving subnanosecond high-speed cache-memory. Commercialized PCRAM products are limited by the tens of nanoseconds writing speed, originating from the stochastic crystal nucleation during the crystallization of amorphous Ge2Sb2Te5. Here, we demonstrate an alloying strategy to speed up the crystallization kinetics. The Sc0.2Sb2Te3 compound we designed allows a writing speed of only 700 picoseconds without preprogramming in a large conventional PCRAM device. This ultrafast crystallization stems from the reduced stochasticity of nucleation through geometrically matched and robust ScTe chemical bonds that stabilize crystal precursors in the amorphous state. Controlling nucleation through alloy design paves the way for the development of cache-type PCRAM technology to boost the working efficiency of computing systems.

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