Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical & Computer Engineering

Committee Director

Helmut Baumgart

Committee Member

Kin P. Cheung

Committee Member

Gon Namkoong

Committee Member

Ravindra Joshi

Committee Member

Zhili Hao


The semiconductor electronics industry has followed Moore's law austerely since 1965 fueling the microelectronics revolution and major technological advancements. Over the recent decades, the semiconductor industry has proven to be very successful, particularly by scaling the geometry of devices ever smaller. The device scaling has been very effective in boosting productivity yielding astonishing integration levels while simultaneously dramatically dropping the price per bit. However, the future of device scaling remains unclear. It is certain that device scaling will face severe reliability, cost and energy issues in the future. Therefore, there is a need to identify alternative technology platforms. Reconfigurable devices are considered as one of the key alternatives.

However, the widespread aggressive acceptance of reconfigurable devices in the semiconductor industry faces many different challenges. One of the major challenges is the size of the switching matrix. One solution to overcome this challenge is to replace the present SRAM (Static Random Access Memory) switch with a non-volatile resistive memory switch. Some of the advantages of these switches are low cost, CMOS compatibility and simple structure.

Given such advantages, it is essential to elucidate the working principle as well as the reliability issues. Since these non-volatile resistive switch devices are new to the semiconductor electronics industry, it is crucially important to explore novel structures for improved device architectures and to develop adequate measurement techniques to inspect and characterize these novel resistive switch devices. In this thesis, novel structures of RRAM devices with constricted electrode area close to the size of a single conducting filament of around 10 nm have been explored to improve device performance. Also, new measurement setups have been developed and proprietary test circuits have been designed, built and tested in order to acquire accurate and reliable data to investigate device performance. Some of the notable achievements of the developed measurement setups are measurement capability of switching transient with accuracy of 4 ns, high resistance measurements up to 1.6 GΩ, accurate endurance test within 1 ms/cycle and limiting current during SET to < 20 μA without noticeable overshoot within 500 ps.