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Solid-state memories based on ferroelectric tunnel junctions


Ferroic-order parameters1 are useful as state variables in non-volatile information storage media because they show a hysteretic dependence on their electric or magnetic field. Coupling ferroics with quantum-mechanical tunnelling allows a simple and fast readout of the stored information through the influence of ferroic orders on the tunnel current. For example, data in magnetic random-access memories2 are stored in the relative alignment of two ferromagnetic electrodes separated by a non-magnetic tunnel barrier, and data readout is accomplished by a tunnel current measurement. However, such devices based on tunnel magnetoresistance3 typically exhibit OFF/ON ratios of less than 4, and require high powers for write operations (>1 × 106 A cm−2). Here, we report non-volatile memories with OFF/ON ratios as high as 100 and write powers as low as 1 × 104 A cm−2 at room temperature by storing data in the electric polarization direction of a ferroelectric tunnel barrier. The junctions show large, stable, reproducible and reliable tunnel electroresistance, with resistance switching occurring at the coercive voltage of ferroelectric switching. These ferroelectric devices emerge as an alternative to other resistive memories4, and have the advantage of not being based on voltage-induced migration of matter at the nanoscale5,6, but on a purely electronic mechanism7.

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Figure 1: Sketch of the devices.
Figure 2: Ferroelectric switching versus resistive switching.
Figure 3: Direct tunnelling with large OFF/ON ratio.
Figure 4: Reproducible, fast and reversible switching.


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The authors thank H. Jaffrès, P. Seneor and P. Metaxas for fruitful discussions as well as S. Vinzelberg, R. Goschke and B. Holmes at Atomic Force for technical assistance with the PFM measurements. Financial support from the European Research Council (ERC advanced grant no. 267579), French C-Nano Île de France and the French Réseau Thématique de Recherche Avancée Triangle de la Physique is acknowledged. X.M. acknowledges support from the Herchel Smith Fellowship.

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Authors and Affiliations



V.G., K.B., M.B. and A.B. conceived and designed the experiments. X.M., N.D.M., A.Cr., J.A., S.X., B.D. and C.D. were responsible for the preparation and nanofabrication of the samples. A.Ch., V.G., K.B., S.F., A.M. and R.P. performed the PFM measurements. A.Ch., A.Cr., V.G., J.G., K.B. and S.F. performed the electrical measurements. A.Ch., A.Cr., V.G., S.F., K.B., M.B. and A.B. analyzed the data. V.G. and M.B. co-wrote the paper. All authors contributed to the manuscript and the interpretation of the data.

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Correspondence to Vincent Garcia.

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Chanthbouala, A., Crassous, A., Garcia, V. et al. Solid-state memories based on ferroelectric tunnel junctions. Nature Nanotech 7, 101–104 (2012).

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