Oxygen ions’ migration is the fundamental resistive switching (RS) mechanism of the binary metal oxides-based memristive devices, and recent studies have found that the RS performance can be enhanced through appropriate oxygen plasma treatment (OPT). However, the lack of experimental evidence observed directly from the microscopic level of materials and applicable understanding of how OPT improves the RS properties will cause significant difficulties in its further application. In this work, we apply scanning probe microscope (SPM)-based techniques to study the OPT-enhanced RS performance in prototypical HfOx
based memristive devices through in situ morphology and electrical measurements. It is first found that the structural deformations in HfOx
nanofilm induced by migration of oxygen ions and interfacial electrochemical reactions can be recovered by OPT effectively. More importantly, such structural deformations no longer occur after OPT due to the strengthening in lattice structure, which directly illustrates the enhanced quantity of HfOx
nanofilm and the nature of enhanced RS properties after OPT. Finally, the underlying mechanisms of OPT-enhanced RS performance are analyzed by the results of X-ray photoelectron spectroscopic (XPS) surface analysis. In the OPT-enhanced HfOx
nanofilm, oxygen vacancies in crystalline regions can be remarkably reduced by active oxygen ions’ implantation. The oxygen ions transport will depend considerably on the grain boundaries and OPT-enhanced lattice structure will further guarantee the stability of conductive filaments, both of which ensure the uniformity and repeatability in RS processes. This study could provide a scientific basis for improving RS performance of oxides-based memristive devices by utilizing OPT.
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