Nanocrystalline Si pathway induced unipolar resistive switching behavior from annealed Si-rich SiNx/SiNy multilayers
Adding a resistive switching functionality to a silicon microelectronic chip is a new challenge in materials research. Here, we demonstrate that unipolar and electrode-independent resistive switching effects can be realized in the annealed Si-rich SiNx/SiNy multilayers with high on/off ratio of 109. High resolution transmission electron microscopy reveals that for the high resistance state broken pathways composed of discrete nanocrystalline silicon (nc-Si) exist in the Si nitride multilayers. While for the low resistance state the discrete nc-Si regions is connected, forming continuous nc-Si pathways. Based on the analysis of the temperature dependent I-V characteristics and HRTEM photos, we found that the break-and-bridge evolution of nc-Si pathway is the origin of resistive switching memory behavior. Our findings provide insights into the mechanism of the resistive switching behavior in nc-Si films, opening a way for it to be utilized as a material in Si-based memories.