Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Phase Change Memory, Thermoelectric effects, Thin film, Characterisation

Major Advisor

Helena Silva

Associate Advisor

Ali Gokirmak

Associate Advisor

Rajeev Bansal

Field of Study

Electrical Engineering


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


The recent proliferation of portable communication devices or data storage equipment is strongly related to the development of memory technology. Non-volatile semiconductor solid-state memories are needed for high-capacity storage media, high-speed operation and low power consumption, with stringent requirements of retention and endurance. Phase change memory (PCM) is currently seen as one of the most promising candidates for a future storage-class memory with the potential to be close to dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) in speed but with much longer retention times and as dense as flash memory. PCM devices utilize chalcogenide materials (most commonly Ge2Sb2Te5 or GST) that can be switched rapidly and reversibly between amorphous and crystalline phases with orders of magnitude difference in electrical resistivity. Since PCM devices operate at elevated (current-induced) temperatures and are significantly impacted by thermoelectric effects it is very important to determine the high temperature material properties of GST. Resistivity, carrier mobility, and carrier concentration in semiconducting materials are three key parameters indispensable for device modeling.

In this work two measurement setups for high temperature thin film characterizations were developed, a Seebeck setup and a Hall setup. The Seebeck coefficient measurement setup is fully automated and uses resistive and inductive heaters to control the temperature gradient and can reach temperatures up to ~650 °C. The Hall measurement setup, developed based on the van der Paw method for characterization of semiconducting thin films, can measure thin film samples of a wide resistivity range from room temperature to ~500 °C. The resistivity, carrier concentration, and Hall carrier mobility are calculated from I-V measurements and the constant magnetic field applied in ‘up’ and ‘down’ directions.

Measurement results on GST thin films with different thicknesses revealed interesting correlations between S-T and ρ-T characteristics and showed that GST behaves as a unipolar p-type semiconducting material from room temperature up to melting. The thermoelectric properties of the GST films were also correlated to the average grain sizes obtained from in-situ XRD measurements during crystallization.

These studies show that the activation energy of carriers in mixed phase amorphous-fcc GST is a linear function of the Peltier coefficient. From these results and the ρ-T characteristics, the expected Seebeck coefficient of single crystal fcc GST is obtained. Using the experimental results for resistivity and Seebeck coefficient, together with a phase separation model, the temperature-dependent thermal conductivity of the mixed phase GST is extracted.