We show that resistive switching in the SiO2/Cu stack can be modified by a brief exposure of the oxide to an Ar plasma. The set voltage of the SiO2/Cu stack is reduced by 33%, while the breakdown voltage of the SiO2/Si stack (control) is almost unchanged. Besides, the Ar plasma treatment suppresses the negative photoconductivity or optical resistance reset effect, where the electrically formed filamentary conductive path consisting of Cu-ion and oxygen-vacancy clusters is disrupted by the recombination of the oxygen vacancies with nearby light-excited oxygen ions. From the enhanced O-H peak in the Fourier-transform infrared spectrum of the plasma-treated oxide, it is proposed that the Ar plasma has created more oxygen vacancies in the surface region of the oxide. These vacancies in turn adsorb water molecules, which act as counter anions (OH-) promoting the migration of Cu cations into the oxide and forming a more complete Cu filament that is less responsive to light. The finding points to the prospect of a control over the optical resistance reset effect by a simple surface treatment step.
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