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Resistive switching of Au/ZnO/Au resistive memory: an in situ observation of conductive bridge formation

Chung-Nan Peng13, Chun-Wen Wang2, Tsung-Cheng Chan13, Wen-Yuan Chang13, Yi-Chung Wang13, Hung-Wei Tsai13, Wen-Wei Wu2, Lih-Juann Chen1 and Yu-Lun Chueh13*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Materials Science & Engineering, National Tsing Hua University, No. 101, Sec. 2, Kuang-Fu Rd., Hsinchu, 30013, Taiwan

2 Department of Materials Science & Engineering, National Chiao-Tung University, No. 1001, University Rd., Hsinchu, 30013, Taiwan

3 Center For Nanotechnology, Material Science, and Microsystem, National Tsing Hua University, No. 101, Sec. 2, Kuang-Fu Rd., Hsinchu, 30013, Taiwan

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:559  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-559

Published: 8 October 2012


A special chip for direct and real-time observation of resistive changes, including set and reset processes based on Au/ZnO/Au system inside a transmission electron microscope (TEM), was designed. A clear conducting bridge associated with the migration of Au nanoparticles (NPs) inside a defective ZnO film from anode to cathode could be clearly observed by taking a series of TEM images, enabling a dynamic observation of switching behaviors. A discontinuous region (broken region) nearby the cathode after reset process was observed, which limits the flow of current, thus a high resistance state, while it will be reconnected to switch the device from high to low resistance states through the migration of Au NPs after set process. Interestingly, the formed morphology of the conducting bridge, which is different from the typical formation of a conducting bridge, was observed. The difference can be attributed to the different diffusivities of cations transported inside the dielectric layer, thereby significantly influencing the morphology of the conducting path. The current TEM technique is quite unique and informative, which can be used to elucidate the dynamic processes in other devices in the future.

Real-time observation; Au/ZnO/Au; Conducting bridge; Au nanoparticles