Impact of thermoelectric phenomena on phase-change memory performance metrics and scaling

Lee, J., Asheghi, M., Goodson, K.E., 2012, "Impact of thermoelectric phenomena on phase-change memory performance metrics and scaling," Nanotechnology, Vol. 23, 205201.

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The coupled transport of heat and electrical current, or thermoelectric phenomena, can strongly influence the temperature distribution and figures of merit for phase-change memory (PCM). This paper simulates PCM devices with careful attention to thermoelectric transport and the resulting impact on programming current during the reset operation. The electrothermal simulations consider Thomson heating within the phase-change material and Peltier heating at the electrode interface. Using representative values for the Thomson and Seebeck coefficients extracted from our past measurements of these properties, we predict a cell temperature increase of 44% and a decrease in the programming current of 16%. Scaling arguments indicate that the impact of thermoelectric phenomena becomes greater with smaller dimensions due to enhanced thermal confinement. This work estimates the scaling of this reduction in programming current as electrode contact areas are reduced down to 10 nm  10 nm. Precise understanding of thermoelectric phenomena and their impact on device performance is a critical part of PCM design strategies.

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