Silver can be dissolved in chalcogenide glasses up to many tens of atomic percent to form ternary compounds that act as high ion mobility solid electrolytes. Forming electrodes in contact with a layer of such a solid electrolyte, an anode which has oxidizable silver and an inert cathode, creates a device that has an intrinsically high resistance but which can be quickly switched to a low resistance state.
At an applied bias
of a few hundred mV in stacked thin-film structures, the silver ions are
reduced at the cathode and the silver in the anode oxidized. The result
of this electrochemical reaction is the rapid formation of a stable conducting
electrodeposit extending from cathode to anode.