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The phase-change memory (PCM) relies on the electrical properties of the chalcogenide materials to represent the stored bit of information. As a result, data stability depends on structural relaxation (SR) in the amorphous chalcogenide phase, which results in a temperature-accelerated time evolution of the electrical properties of the active material. Here, we address the time, temperature, and bias dependence of SR effects on the amorphous Ge2Sb2Te5 (GST) material used in PCM cells. Electrical measurements for increasing annealing time and temperature indicate that SR can be described by a defect annihilation process in the amorphous chalcogenide material. Finally, the stability of chalcogenide resistance as a function of the read conditions is discussed, for the purpose of reducing the impact of SR on the reliability of PCM devices.
Date of Publication: May 2009