Resistive switching mechanisms on taox and srruo3 thin-film surfaces probed by scanning tunneling microscopy

Marco Moors, Kiran Kumar Adepalli, Qiyang Lu, Anja Wedig, Katharina Skaja, Christoph Bäumer, Benedikt Arndt, Harry Louis Tuller, Regina Dittmann, Rainer Waser, Bilge Yildiz, Ilia Valov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


The local electronic properties of tantalum oxide (TaOx, 2 ≤ x ≤ 2.5) and strontium ruthenate (SrRuO3) thin-film surfaces were studied under the influence of electric fields induced by a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) tip. The switching between different redox states in both oxides is achieved without the need for physical electrical contact by controlling the magnitude and polarity of the applied voltage between the STM tip and the sample surface. We demonstrate for TaOx films that two switching mechanisms operate. Reduced tantalum oxide shows resistive switching due to the formation of metallic Ta, but partial oxidation of the samples changes the switching mechanism to one mediated mainly by oxygen vacancies. For SrRuO3, we found that the switching mechanism depends on the polarity of the applied voltage and involves formation, annihilation, and migration of oxygen vacancies. Although TaOx and SrRuO3 differ significantly in their electronic and structural properties, the resistive switching mechanisms could be elaborated based on STM measurements, proving the general capability of this method for studying resistive switching phenomena in different classes of transition metal oxides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1481-1492
Number of pages12
JournalACS nano
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Electric field effect
  • Resistive switching
  • Scanning tunneling microscopy
  • Strontium ruthenate
  • Tantalum oxide


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