Conductance Switching in Liquid Crystal-Inspired Self-Assembled Monolayer Junctions

  • chair:

    Dlugosch, J. M. / Seim, H. / Bora, A. / Kamiyama, T. / Lieberman, I. / May, F. / Müller-Plathe, F. / Nefedov, A. / Prasad, S. / Resch, S. / Saller, K. / Seim, C. / Speckbacher, M. / Voges, F. / Tornow, M. / Kirsch, P. (2022)

  • place:

    ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 2022, 14, 27, 31044–31053,

  • Date: Juli 2022
  • Abstract

    We present the prototype of a ferroelectric tunnel junction (FTJ), which is based on a self-assembled monolayer (SAM) of small, functional molecules. These molecules have a structure similar to those of liquid crystals, and they are embedded between two solid-state electrodes. The SAM, which is deposited through a short sequence of simple fabrication steps, is extremely thin (3.4 ± 0.5 nm) and highly uniform. The functionality of the FTJ is ingrained in the chemical structure of the SAM components: a conformationally flexible dipole that can be reversibly reoriented in an electrical field. Thus, the SAM acts as an electrically switchable tunnel barrier. Fabricated stacks of Al/Al2O3/SAM/Pb/Ag with such a polar SAM show pronounced hysteretic, reversible conductance switching at voltages in the range of ±2–3 V, with a conductance ratio of the low and the high resistive states of up to 100. The switching mechanism is analyzed using a combination of quantum chemical, molecular dynamics, and tunneling resistance calculation methods. In contrast to more common, inorganic material-based FTJs, our approach using SAMs of small organic molecules allows for a high degree of functional complexity and diversity to be integrated by synthetic standard methods, while keeping the actual device fabrication process robust and simple. We expect that this technology can be further developed toward a level that would then allow its application in the field of information storage and processing, in particular for in-memory and neuromorphic computing architectures.