Sputter deposition is one of the most important techniques for the fabrication of memristive devices. It allows us to adjust the concentration of defects within the fabricated metal-oxide thin film layers. The defect concentration is important for those memristive devices whose resistance changes during device operation due to the drift of ions within the active layer while an electric field is applied. Reversible change of the resistance is an important property for devices used in neuromorphic circuits to emulate synaptic behavior. These novel bioinspired hardware architectures are ascertained in terms of advantageous features such as lower power dissipation and improved cognitive capabilities compared to state-of-the-art digital electronics. Thus, memristive devices are intensively studied with regard to neuromorphic analog systems. Double-barrier memristive devices with the layer sequence Nb/Al/Al2O3/NbOx/Au are promising candidates to emulate analog synaptic behavior in hardware. Here, the niobium oxide acts as the active layer, in which charged defects can drift due to an applied electric field causing analog resistive switching. In this publication, crucial parameters of the process plasma for thin film deposition, such as floating potential, electron temperature, and the energy flux to the substrate, are correlated with the I-V characteristics of the individual memristive devices. The results from plasma diagnostics are combined with microscopic and simulation methods. Strong differences in the oxidation state of the niobium oxide layers were found by transmission electron microscopy. Furthermore, kinetic Monte Carlo simulations indicate the impact of the defect concentration within the NbOx layer on the I-V hysteresis. The findings may enable a new pathway for the development of plasma-engineered memristive devices tailored for specific application.

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