Temporary formation of highly conducting domain walls for non-destructive read-out of ferroelectric domain-wall resistance switching memories.Nat Mater 2018; 17(1):49-56NM
Erasable conductive domain walls in insulating ferroelectric thin films can be used for non-destructive electrical read-out of the polarization states in ferroelectric memories. Still, the domain-wall currents extracted by these devices have not yet reached the intensity and stability required to drive read-out circuits operating at high speeds. This study demonstrated non-destructive read-out of digital data stored using specific domain-wall configurations in epitaxial BiFeO3 thin films formed in mesa-geometry structures. Partially switched domains, which enable the formation of conductive walls during the read operation, spontaneously retract when the read voltage is removed, reducing the accumulation of mobile defects at the domain walls and potentially improving the device stability. Three-terminal memory devices produced 14 nA read currents at an operating voltage of 5 V, and operated up to T = 85 °C. The gap length can also be smaller than the film thickness, allowing the realization of ferroelectric memories with device dimensions far below 100 nm.