Enhancing Reliability of Studies on Single Filament Memristive Switching via an Unconventional cAFM Approach
Memristive devices are highly promising for implementing neuromorphic functionalities in future electronic hardware, and direct insights into memristive phenomena on the nanoscale are of fundamental importance to reaching this. Conductive atomic force microscopy (cAFM) has proven to be an essential tool for probing memristive action locally on the nanoscale, but the significance of the acquired data frequently suffers from the nonlocality associated with the thermal drift of the tip in ambient conditions. Furthermore, comparative studies of different configurations of filamentary devices have proven to be difficult, because of an immanent variability of the filament properties between different devices. Herein, these problems are addressed by constraining the memristive action directly at the apex of the probe through functionalization of a cAFM tip with an archetypical memristive stack, which is comprised of Ag/Si3N4. The design of such functionalized cantilevers (entitled here as "memtips") allowed the capture of the long-term intrinsic current response, identifying temporal correlations between switching events, and observing emerging spiking dynamics directly at the nanoscale. Utilization of an identical memtip for measurements on different counter electrodes made it possible to directly compare the impact of different device configurations on the switching behavior of the same filament. Such an analytical approach in ambient conditions will pave the way towards a deeper understanding of filamentary switching phenomena on the nanoscale.