Mary Gates Endowment For Students

Simon Cao

Mary Gates Research Scholar, Winter 2022

Research Project: Modeling and Simulation of Resistive Random Access Memories Using High-Performance Computing Tools

Project Description: The resistive random-access memory (RRAM) is a promising candidate for next-generation nonvolatile memory (NVM). This technology is considered one of the most standout emerging memory technologies due to its potential high storage density, fast access speed, low power consumption, and low cost. If the technology is well-understood, it could significantly change the memory industry and trigger more advancement in computing and, thus, the scientific field. The research project’s main focus would be the theoretical modeling and simulations of the properties and behaviors of the conductive filament in the resistive random access memories using high-performance computing (HPC) resources at the University of Washington. More simulations will be done to understand further the physical principles behind two configurations: unipolar RRAM and bipolar RRAM. In unipolar RRAM, the voltage to reset and set the memory cell has the same polarity, while in bipolar RRAM, the voltage to reset and set has reverse polarity. While some of the theoretical models are still not complete, these simulations might help understand the phenomenon and shed some light on future modeling.

What have you learned throughout your research project?

With Professor Anantram’s guidance in this research project, I learned more about semiconductors and devices physics. As I plan to continue my study in this field in the future, I am confident that this research experience on resistive memories would help me start my academic career early on, learn more in-depth about the field in practice, and contribute to our department’s research. Doing research instead of just taking classes could provide a much more valuable experience dealing with real-world problems and provoke a much deeper understanding of the physical world from an academic standpoint.

What piece of advice do you have for future applicants?

If anyone is hesitating whether or not to apply for this scholarship because of its various difficulties, I would recommend them to do so. I believe the process of applying for the scholarship requires people to think deeply about how their research is related to them on a personal level and would encourage people to plan for the future about their career goals. It is not just a chance to win a scholarship but also a chance to reflect on oneself and prepare better for the future.