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ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2009 Jan;1(1):60-71. doi: 10.1021/am800001e.

Conductivity switching and electronic memory effect in polymers with pendant azobenzene chromophores.

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NUS Graduate School of Integrative Sciences and Engineering (NGS), Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, National University of Singapore, 10 Kent Ridge, Singapore 119260, Singapore.


Electronic memory devices having the indium-tin oxide/polymer/Al sandwich structure were fabricated from polymers containing pendant azobenzene chromophores in donor-acceptor structures. The reversibility, or rewritability, of the high-conductivity (ON) state was found to be dependent on the terminal moiety of the azobenzene chromophore. While the polymers with electron-accepting terminal moieties (-Br or -NO2) in the pendant azobenzene exhibit write-once, read-many-times (WORM) type memory behavior, those with electron-donating terminal moieties (-OCH3) exhibit rewritable (FLASH) memory behavior. The WORM memory devices have low switching ("write") voltages below -2 V and high ON/OFF current ratios of about 10(4)-10(6). The polarity of the "write" voltage can be reversed by using an electrode with a higher work function than Al, thus excluding metallic filamentary conduction as a cause of the bistable switching phenomenon. The FLASH memory devices have low "write" and "erase" voltages of about -1.7 to -1.8 V and 2.0 to 2.2 V, respectively, and ON/OFF current ratios of about 10(3)-10(4). The electrical bistability observed can be attributed to charge trapping at the azobenzene chromophores, resulting in the charge-separated, high-conductivity state. The proposed mechanism is supported experimentally by a red shift and peak broadening in the UV-visible absorption spectra of the polymer films resulting from the OFF-to-ON electrical transition.

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