Zhao Rong

Associate Professor

Telephone: +65 6499 4613
Research Areas:
Electrical Engineering

Pillar / Cluster: Engineering Product Development


Zhao Rong received her PhD from National University of Singapore in 1999 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. Since 2002 she 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 co-chair of the technical committee of IEEE non-volatile memory technology symposium (2012 and 2013) 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:

  • The next generation NVM technologies and applications (PCM, RRAM, Memristor)
  • Bio-inspired artificial cognitive memory
  • Reconfigurable devices
  • Neuromorphic cognitive system
  • Memristor electronics.
  • 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

On-going Projects

  • Non-volatile memory based low power FPGA for smart electronics applications (SUTD-MIT IDC) July 2014 – June 2017
  • Low power bio-plausible neuron and synapse for bio-inspired computation (Singapore MOE T2) June 2014 – May 2017
  • Crossbar-memristor based neuromorphic system for learning in spiking based neural network (SUTD-ZJU IDC) Feb 2014 – Jan 2017
  • SUTD SRG May 2013 – April 2016

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 logic devices
  • 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
  • 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
  • Best Poster Award – 2007 International Conference on Materials for Applied Technologies (ICMAT) “Investigation of the Interface effects of Nitrogen doped Ge2Sb2Te5PCRAM”

Key Publications

Selected Recent Invited Conference Talks

  1. “Manipulating Material Interfaces for Low Current PCRAM”, NVMTS2013, USA
  2. “Breaking the diffraction limit to achieve ultra-high density optical recording”, Asia-Pacific Conference on Near-field Optics (APNFO2013), Singapore
  3. “Endurance improvement of PCRAM”, 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)
  9. “Bio Inspired artificial cognitive memory”, IEEE NVMTS 2011, China
  10. “Nano-phase change for data storage and beyond”, International Symposium on Optical Memory 2011, USA

Selected Recent Journal Publications

  1. W. He, K.J. Huang, N. Ning, K. Ramanathan, G.Q. Li, Y. Jiang, R. Zhao, L.P. Shi, “Enabling an Integrated Rate-temporal Learning Scheme on Memristor”, Scientific Report (2014)
  2. K.J. Huang, R. Zhao, N. Ning, Y. Lian, “A Low Power Localized 2T1R STT-MRAM Array with Pipelined Quad Phase Saving Scheme for Zero Sleep Power Systems”, IEEE Transaction on Circuits and Systems I: Regular Paper (2014)
  3. K.J. Huang, Y.J. Ha, R. Zhao, A. Kumar, Y. Lian, “A Active Leakage and High Reliability Phase Change Memory (PCM) based Non-Volatile FPGA Storage Element”, IEEE Transaction on Circuits and Systems I: Regular Paper (2014)
  4. V.Y.Q. Zhuo, Y. Jiang, R. Zhao, L.P. Shi, Y. Yang, T.C. Chong, J. Robertson, “Improved Switching Uniformity and Low-Voltage Operation in TaOx-Based RRAM Using Ge Reactive Layer”, IEEE Electron Device Letters, 34, 9, 1130 (2013)
  5. C.C. Tan, L.P. Shi, R. Zhao, Q. Guo, Y. Li, Y. Yang, T.C. Chong, J.A. Malen, E.L. Ong, T.E. Schlesinger, and J.A. Bain, “Compositionally matched nitrogen-doped Ge2Sb2Te5/Ge2Sb2Te5 superlattice-like structures for phase change random access memory”, Applied Physics Letters, 103, 133507 (2013)
  6. 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, J. Robertson, “Band Alignment between Ta2Oand Metals for Resistive Random Access Memory Electrodes Engineering”, Applied Physics Letters, 102, 6, 062106 (2013)
  7. 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)
  8. M.H. Li, R. Zhao, L.T. Law, K.G. Lim, and L.P. Shi “TiWOinterfacial layer for current reduction and cyclability enhancement of phase change memory”, Applied Physics Letters, 101,073502 (2012)
  9. 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)

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, material/device characterization, and circuit design.

You may contact me via email with a copy of your CV.
Email: zhao_rong@sutd.edu.sg

PhD Scholarships

  1. Fully funded PhD scholarships are available. Candidates with background in electrical engineering, material science, applied physics are preferred. The proposed PhD topics include (a) low power bio-inspired synapse for cognitive memory and computation, (b) Memristor-based Neuromorphic System, (c) Graphere’s application in storage, (d) wearable energy harvester
  2. Funded PhD scholarships 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 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.
Email: zhao_rong@sutd.edu.sg