Applied Physics A

, Volume 107, Issue 3, pp 509–518

Thermophoresis/diffusion as a plausible mechanism for unipolar resistive switching in metal–oxide–metal memristors

  • Dmitri B. Strukov
  • Fabien Alibart
  • R. Stanley Williams
Invited paper


We show that the SET operation of a unipolar memristor could be explained by thermophoresis, or the Soret effect, which is the diffusion of atoms, ions or vacancies in a steep temperature gradient. This mechanism explains the observed resistance switching via conducting channel formation and dissolution reported for TiO2 and other metal-oxide-based unipolar resistance switches. Depending on the temperature profile in a device, dilute vacancies can preferentially diffuse radially inward toward higher temperatures caused by the Joule heating of an electronic current to essentially condense and form a conducting channel. The RESET operation occurs via radial diffusion of vacancies away from the channel when the temperature is elevated but the gradient is small.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dmitri B. Strukov
    • 1
  • Fabien Alibart
    • 1
  • R. Stanley Williams
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringUniversity of California Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.NanoElectronics Research GroupHewlett-Packard LaboratoriesPalo AltoUSA

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