Reversible Electrical Switching Phenomena in Disordered Structures

  • Stanford R. Ovshinsky
Part of the Institute for Amorphous Studies Series book series (IASS)


We describe here a rapid and reversible transition between a highly resistive and a conductive state effected by an electric field which we have observed in various types of disordered materials, particularly amorphous semiconductors1,2 covering a wide range of compositions. These include oxide- and boron-based glasses and materials which contain the elements tellurium and/or arsenic combined with other elements such as those of groups III, IV, and VI.


Load Resistor Resistive State Conductive State Switching Process Dynamic Resistance 
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  1. 1.
    Parts of this work were presented earlier: S. R. Ovshinsky, at the Fourth Symposium on Vitreous Chalcogenide Semiconductors, sponsored by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Leningrad, 23–27 May 1967 (unpublished), and at the International Colloquium on Amorphous and Liquid Semiconductors, sponsored by the Rumanian Academy of Science, Bucharest, 28 September-3 October 1967 (unpublished), and in Proceedings of the Electronic Components Conference, Washington, D. C., May 1968 (McGregor and Werner, Inc., Washington, D. C., 1968), p. 313 ff.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    S. R. Ovshinsky, U. S. Patent No. 3 271 591.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    A discussion of the field of amorphous semiconductors and earlier references can be found in the review article by N. F. Mott, Advan. Phys. 16, 49 (1967).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    The intrinsic behavior of amorphous semiconductors was first reported by A. F. Ioffé and B. T. Kolomiets; cf. Ref. 3.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    The conductivity is expressed as σ = σ 0exp(-ΔE/kT).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    H. Fritzsche, E. A. Fagen, and S. R. Ovshinsky, to be published.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Even in a circuit that is current stabilized by a 108-Ω load resistor, the unit cannot be held at an operating point between the highly resistive and the conducting state. In some cases, relaxation oscillations governed by the load resistor and the unit’s capacitance (C ≈ 3 pF) have been observed.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    By changing the film thickness, values of V t between 2.5 and 300 V have been obtained.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Nichrome electrodes yield a particularly low value, V h = 0.5 V. A more detailed study is in progress.Google Scholar
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    H. Fritzsche, private communication.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    K. W. Böer, E. Jahne, and E. Neubauer, Phys. Status Solidi 1, 231 (1961).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    B. K. Ridley, Proc. Phys. Soc. (London) 81, 996 (1963).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    M. H. Cohen, to be published.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    This unit is not the one used for Figs. 1 and 2.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    M. H. Cohen, R. G. Neale, and S. R. Ovshinsky, to be published.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    G. A. Dussel and R. H. Bubé, J. Appl. Phys. 37, 2797 (1966).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    S. R. Ovshinsky, to be published.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stanford R. Ovshinsky
    • 1
  1. 1.Energy Conversion Devices, Inc.TroyUSA

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