Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Nanoscale Science and Engineering


Nanoscale Engineering

Content Description

1 online resource (xxvii, 189 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Nathaniel C Cady

Committee Members

Carl Ventrice, James Lloyd, Serge Oktybrsky, Dmitry Veksler


HfO2, integration, metal-oxide, ReRAM, RRAM, Nonvolatile random-access memory, Computer storage devices, Neuromorphics

Subject Categories

Nanoscience and Nanotechnology


Resistive random access memory (ReRAM or RRAM) is a novel form of non-volatile memory that is expected to play a major role in future computing and memory solutions. It has been shown that the resistance state of ReRAM devices can be precisely tuned by modulating switching voltages, by limiting peak current, and by adjusting the switching pulse properties. This enables the realization of novel applications such as memristive neuromorphic computing and neural network computing. I have developed two processes based on 100 and 300mm wafer platforms to demonstrate functional HfO2 based ReRAM devices. The first process is designed for a rapid materials engineering and device characterization, while the second is an advanced hybrid ReRAM/CMOS combination based on the IBM 65nm 10LPe process technology. The 100mm wafer efforts were used to show impacts of etch processes on ReRAM switching performance and the need for a rigorous structural evaluation of ReRAM devices before starting materials development. After an etch development, a bottom electrode comparison between the inert materials Pt, Ru and W was performed where Ru showed superior results with respect to yield and resilience against environmental impacts such as humidity over a 2-month period. A comparison of amorphous and crystalline devices showed no statistical difference in the performance with respect to random telegraph noise. This demonstrates, that the forming process fundamentally alters the crystallographic structure within and around the filament. The 300mm wafer development efforts were aimed towards implementing ReRAM in the FEOL, combined with CMOS, to yield a seamless process flow of 1 transistor 1 ReRAM structures (1T1R). This technology was customized with custom-developed tungsten metal 1 (M1) and dual tungsten/copper via 1 (V1) structures, within which the ReRAM stack is embedded. The ReRAM itself consists of an inert W bottom electrode, HfO2 based active switching layer, a Ti oxygen scavenger layer, and an inert TiN top electrode. Linear sweep and controlled pulse (down to 5 ns) based electrical characterization of 1 transistor 1 ReRAM (1T1R) elements was performed to determine key properties including endurance, reliability, and threshold voltages. We demonstrated endurance values above 1010 cycles with an average on/off ratio of 10, and pulse voltages for set/reset operation of ±1.5V. The on-chip 1T1R structures show an excellent controllability with respect to the low and high resistive states by manipulating the peak current from 75 up to 350 μA resulting in 10 distinct low resistance states (LRS). Our results demonstrate that the set operation (which shifts the ReRAM device from the high to the low resistance state) is only dependent on the voltage of the switching pulse and the peak current limit. The reset operation, however, occurs in an analog fashion and appears to be dependent on the total energy of the applied switching pulse. Pulse energy was modulated by varying the peak voltage resulting in a larger relative change of the ReRAM device resistance. The incremental resistance changes are ideally suited to emulate synaptic weights for future implementation into neuromorphic architectures. Switching results from these devices were also used to develop a model time-delay physical unclonable function (PUF) circuit, which showed excellent performance when compared to a pure CMOS implementation with significant improvements in uniqueness, size and accuracy.