Phase-change nonvolatile semiconductor memory technology is based on an electrically initiated, reversible rapid amorphous-to-crystalline phase-change process in multicomponent chalcogenide alloy materials similar to those used in rewriteable optical disks. Long cycle life, low programming energy, and excellent scaling characteristics are advantages that make phase-change semiconductor memory a promising candidate to replace flash memory in future applications. Phase-change technology is being commercialized by a number of semiconductor manufacturers. Fundamental processes in phase-change semiconductor memory devices, device performance characteristics, and progress toward commercialization of the technology are reviewed.
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