We have developed an approach for rapid, in-situ temperature control of the devices and materials in our research, which enables rapid annealing for basic materials research and thermal cycling for reliability assessments.  Many of the phase transitions or material degradations occur at rates strongly influenced by temperature, and conventional temperature control using a hot chuck or scientific oven provide insufficient temporal control for fundamental investigation.  In response to this situation, we have developed measurement structures with integrated heaters and thermometers that enable temperature control with microsecond or better temporal resolution.

The applications of this Micro Thermal Stage (MTS) toolset range from characterization of devices, as in the lateral phase change memory cell shown at top right, to the study of rapid temperature exposures and annealing on nanostructured materials and films.  A more recent example is the measurement of the temperature and annealing dependence of the thermal properties of phase change materials, examined through rapid heating by integrated metallization in a measurement structure.  This measurement strategy is having an enormous impact on our research progress, both through enabling fundamental measurements on materials and through more applied work on device reliability.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. CBET-0853350. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Micro Thermal Stage 1
optical image of a lateral phase change memory cell with an integrated heater/thermometer structure
Thermal Stage
thermal characterization structure with integrated temperature control
Thermal Stage 2
temperature dependent thermal property data of a phase change material obtained using the MTS