An impurity doping in semiconductors is an important irreversible process of manipulating the electrical properties of advanced electron devices. Here, we report an unusual reversible dopant activation/deactivation phenomenon, which emerges at an interface between indium tin oxide (ITO) and single-crystalline oxide channel. We found that the interface electrical resistance between ITO electrodes and single-crystalline oxide nanowire channel can be repeatedly switched between a metallic state and a near-insulative state by applying thermal treatments in air or vacuum. Interestingly, this electrical switching phenomenon disappears when the oxide nanowire changes from the single-crystalline structure to the lithography-defined polycrystalline structure. Atmosphere-controlled annealing experiments reveal that atmospheric oxygen induces repeatable change in the interfacial electrical resistance. Systematic investigations on metal cation species and channel crystallinity demonstrate that the observed electrical switching is related to an interface-specific reversible Sn-dopant activation/deactivation of ITO electrode in contact with a single-crystalline oxide channel.
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