Ferroelectric-field-effect-enhanced electroresistance in metal/ferroelectric/semiconductor tunnel junctions.Nat Mater 2013; 12(7):617-21NM
Ferroelectric tunnel junctions (FTJs), composed of two metal electrodes separated by an ultrathin ferroelectric barrier, have attracted much attention as promising candidates for non-volatile resistive memories. Theoretical and experimental works have revealed that the tunnelling resistance switching in FTJs originates mainly from a ferroelectric modulation on the barrier height. However, in these devices, modulation on the barrier width is very limited, although the tunnelling transmittance depends on it exponentially as well. Here we propose a novel tunnelling heterostructure by replacing one of the metal electrodes in a normal FTJ with a heavily doped semiconductor. In these metal/ferroelectric/semiconductor FTJs, not only the height but also the width of the barrier can be electrically modulated as a result of a ferroelectric field effect, leading to a greatly enhanced tunnelling electroresistance. This idea is implemented in Pt/BaTiO3/Nb:SrTiO3 heterostructures, in which an ON/OFF conductance ratio above 10(4), about one to two orders greater than those reported in normal FTJs, can be achieved at room temperature. The giant tunnelling electroresistance, reliable switching reproducibility and long data retention observed in these metal/ferroelectric/semiconductor FTJs suggest their great potential in non-destructive readout non-volatile memories.