Cross-section and plan view specimens from a GeTe-based phase change memory device prepared using the Xe plasma focused ion beam tool (Xe pFIB), followed by concentrated Ar ion beam milling. Energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) data from the cross-section specimen confirms the removal of Xe pFIB damage after Ar ion beam milling from the marked area (yellow rectangle) in the dark field scanning transmission electron microscopy (DF-STEM) image. The extent of the affected regions due to partial SET programming is shown as partially crystallized GeTe (partial c-GeTe) and amorphous GeTe (a-GeTe) in the plan view specimen. Ge and Te segregation occurred as shown by EDS maps.

TEM specimens of GeTe-based, mushroom-type phase change memory (PCM) devices were prepared using a Xe plasma FIB tool. Xe plasma FIB (pFIB) preparation would be the preferred preparation technique over Ga FIB because the phase change layer, GeTe, is susceptible to ion beam damage. However, producing electron-transparent TEM specimens using a Xe pFIB is tedious and deviates from the standard Ga FIB method because of the relatively large Xe beam and its wide beam tails [1]. To obtain high-quality specimens free from Xe damage and suitable for high-resolution imaging and analysis, controlled specimen thinning of the cross-section and plan view specimens is achieved by post-pFIB polishing by concentrated Ar ion beam milling using Fischione Instruments’ Model 1080 PicoMill® TEM specimen preparation system

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