Associate Professor
Zhao Rong received her PhD from National University of Singapore in the area of III-V quantum well lasers. She then joined Data Storage Institute (DSI), A*STAR, Singapore, where she was involved in the development of high density re-writable optical disk, and then has been working on the next generation non-volatile memory (NVM) technologies with the focus on phase change RAM (PCRAM), resistive RAM (RRAM) and artificial cognitive memory (ACM). Prior to joining SUTD, she was a senior scientist, program leader of PCRAM/RRAM, and assistant division manager of NVM division. She was the principal investigator of A*STAR thematic strategic research programs with award of more than S$10M research grants in total. She is the Chair of the Technical Committee of IEEE Non-Volatile Memory Technology Symposium (2012, 2013 and 2014) and the Lead of the Organization Committee of Material Research Society Meetings – phase change materials for memory and reconfigurable electronics applications symposium (2011 and 2012).

Besides the passion on research, Zhao Rong also enjoys the interactions with the students. She has supervised and co-supervised 10 PhD students and more than 80 undergraduate students for their final-year projects and vacation internship programmes. It has been extremely rewarding for her to observe each student’s maturation and to help them develop their skills. She is the recipient of A*STAR Most Inspiring Mentor Award (2009).
Research Interests
Her current research areas include:
  • Non-volatile memory technologies (PCRAM, RRAM, Memristor) and applications
  • Bio-inspired artificial cognitive memory
  • Data storage technology
  • Nano-materials, nano-structures and applications in green energy and storage
  • Reconfigurable devices
  • Neuromorphic cognitive system
  • MEMS
Her previous research interests and experience also include III-V optoelectronics such as quantum well lasers and solar cells, optical storages, and 3D graphics and animation.
Research Projects
Selected Previous Projects
  • Industry Project – 16 Kbits RRAM chip prototyping and memory controller
  • A*STAR SERC thematic strategic research program (TSRP) – Future Data Center Technologies: NVM based integration of PCRAM and RRAM with ultra-scaled vertical Si nanowire
  • A*STAR SERC TSRP – Artificial cognitive memory
  • A*STAR SERC TSRP – PCRAM/RRAM integrating with advanced logicdevices
  • Fundamental study of nano-PCRAM at the extreme condition in dimensional and time domains
  • Inter RI project (IME) – Nano-PCRAM chip
  • A*STAR SERC TSRP – ZnO MOCVD growth: From doping engineering towards the applications in LEDs and Laser diodes
  • Industry Project – High density phase change optical disk consortium consisting of 8 MNC and local companies
Awards & Achievements
  • Most Impressive Paper Award – 2012 European Phase Change and Ovonics Science Symposium (E\PCOS), “Ultra-fast Phase Change for Data Storage”
  • Outstanding Paper Award – 2012 Material Research Society (MRS) Spring Meeting, “A Strategy to Achieve Sub-nanosecond Write Speeds”
  • Best Poster Award- 2011 IEEE International Non-volatile Memory Technology Symposium (IEEE NVMTS), “Novel Bipolar TaOx-based RRAM”
  • Best Paper Award– 2006 E\PCOS “Superlattice-like PCRAM”
  • Best Paper Award- 2005 IEEE NVMTS, “Study of Geometry Effect of PCRAM”
  • A*STAR Most Inspiring Mentor Award (2009) 

Selected Awards Obtained by the Students
  • Best Poster Award - 2012 IEEE NVMTS “Investigation of Resistive Switching in Bipolar TaOx-based RRAM”
  • Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors’ Award 2011, Silver Award (vacancy in Gold Award) – Breaking the speed limitation of PCRAM
  • NUS FoE Innovation & Research Award 2011 – Investigation on reducing resistance drift for high density PCRAM
  • Best Paper Award 2011 in NUS IEEE Microelectronic Technologies & Devices “growth-dominant superlattice-like phase change medium and its application in lateral PCRAM”
  • NUS FoE Innovation & Research Award 2010 – Diode switched crossbar architecture (1D1R) for ultra-high density PCRAM
  • NUS Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award 2009 – Multi-level PCRAM
  • NUS FoE Innovation & Research Award 2009, Highest Achievement Award – Multi-level PCRAM
  • Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors’ Award 2008, Silver Award (vacancy in Gold Award) – High performance GST/N-GST SLL PCRAM
  • Micron Asia Innovation Challenge Award 2008
  • NUS FoE Innovation & Research Award 2008 – Development of PCRAM devices for improved lifetime performance
  • Best Poster Award - 2007 International Conference on Materials for Applied Technologies (ICMAT) “Investigation of the Interface effects of Nitrogen doped Ge2Sb2Te5PCRAM”
  • NUS FoE Innovation & Research Award 2007 – Investigation ofthe physical limitation of PCRAM
  • IEEE Region 10 Undergraduate Student Paper Contest 2007, Second Prize – Material engineering of PCRAM
  • Micron Asia Innovation Challenge Award 2007
  • APRU Enterprise Business Plan Competition Extra Chapter Challenge 2006, Third Prize
  • IEEE Region 10 Undergraduate Student Paper Contest 2005, Third Prize - Investigation of PCRAM using material engineering to reduce programming current 
Key Publications
Selected Recent Invited Conference Talks
  1. "Interface engineering for high density PCRAM", IEEE NVMTS 2013, USA
  2. “Breaking the diffraction limit to achieve ultra-high density optical recording”, Asia-Pacific Conference on Near-field Optics (APNFO2013), Singapore
  3. “Engineering PCRAM with low current from the material and carrier transportation aspects", Material Research Society (MRS) Spring Meeting 2013, USA
  4. “Ultra-fast phase change for data storage”, E\PCOS 2012, Finland
  5. “High density, high speed and high endurance PCRAM”, IEEE NVMTS 2012, Singapore
  6. “Material Selection through Band-alignment Study for PCRAM Integration”, E\PCOS 2011, Switzerland
  7. “Investigation on the Scaling Limitation of PCRAM”, MRS Spring 2011, USA
  8. “Status, challenges and future trend of PCRAM”, Globalfoundries Tech Forum 2011, Singapore (Distinguished Speaker)

Selected Recent Journal Publications
  1. V.Y.Q. Zhuo, Y. Jiang, R. Zhao, L.P. Shi, Y. Yang, T.C.Chong, and J. Robertson, "Improved switching uniformity and low voltage operation in TaOx-based RRAM using Ge reactive layer", IEEE Electron Device Letters, in press
  2. V.Y.Q. Zhuo, Y. Jiang, M.H, Li, E.K. Chua, Z. Zhang, J.S. Pan, R. Zhao, L.P. Shi, T.C.Chong, and J. Robertson, “Band Alignment between Ta2O5 and Metals for Resistive Random Access Memory Electrodes Engineering”, Applied Physics Letters, 102, 6, 062106 (2013)
  3. R. Zhao, L.P. Shi, C.C. Tan, H.X. Yang, L.T. Law, and T.C. Chong “Configuration effects of superlattice-like phase change material structure”, Physica Status Solidi A - applications and materials science, 249, 10,1925 (2012) (Invited Paper)
  4. M.H. Li, R. Zhao, L.T. Law, K.G. Lim, and L.P. Shi “TiWOx interfacial layer for current reduction and cyclability enhancement of phase change memory”, Applied Physics Letters, 101,073502 (2012)
  5. D. Loke, T.H. Lee, W.J. Wang, L.P. Shi, R. Zhao, T.C.Chong, Y.C. Yeo and S.R. Elliott “Breaking the speed Limits of phase-change memory”, Science, 336, 1566 (2012)
  6. E.K. Chua, R. Zhao, L.P. Shi, T.C. Chong, T.E.Schlesinger and J.A. Bain “Effect of metals and annealing on specific contact resistivity of GeTe/metal contacts”, Applied Physics Letters, 101,012107 (2012)
  7. W.J. Wang, D. Loke, L.P. Shi, R. Zhao, H.X. Yang, L.T.Law, L. Ng, K.G. Lim, T.C. Chong, Y.C. Yeo and A.L. Lacaita “Enabling universal memory by overcoming the contradictory speed and stability nature of phase-change materials”, Scientific Reports (by Nature Publication Group), 254019,(2012)
  8. J.Q. Huang, L.P. Shi, E.G. Yeo, K.J. Yi, and R. Zhao "Electrochemical metallization resistive memory devices using ZnS-SiO2 as a solid electrolyte”, IEEE Electron Device Letters, 33, 98 (2012)

Book Chapters

  1.  L.P. Shi and R. Zhao, Chapter “Phase Change Random Access Memory”, Book: Nonvolatile Memories - Materials, Devices and Applications, 2-volume Set, published by American Scientific Publishers, ISBN:1-58883-250-3
  2. L.P. Shi, R. Zhao and T.C. Chong, Chapter 13 “Phase Change Random Access Memory”, Developments in Data Storage: Materials Perspective, published by IEEE and John Wiley & Sons, INC, ISBN:978-1-118-09683-3

Job Opportunities

Looking for Postdoctoral Researchers/ Research Fellows with experience in materials processing, thin films, device fabrication, and material/device characterization.
You may contact me via email with a copy of your CV.  

PhD Scholarships

(1) Fully funded PhD scholarships are available. Candidates with background in electrical engineering, material science, applied physics are preferred. 
(2) One fully funded PhD scholarship on Spin-Transfer Torque MRAM (STT-MRAM), collaborating with a foundry company. The student will be attached to the foundry company for postgraduate research and has high potential to be employed by the company after graduation. Candidate must be a Singapore citizen.
You may contact me via email with a copy of your CV.