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Thermal and elastic properties of Ge-Sb-Te based phase-change materials

  • P. Zalden (a1) (a2), C. Bichara (a3), J. v. Eijk (a1) (a2), R. P. Hermann (a4) (a5), I. Sergueev (a1), G. Bruns (a1) (a2), S. Buller (a6), W. Bensch (a6), T. Matsunaga (a7) (a8), N. Yamada (a8) (a9) and M. Wuttig (a1) (a2)...

Phase-change materials undergo a change in bonding mechanism upon crystallization, which leads to pronounced modifications of the optical properties and is accompanied by an increase in average bond lengths as seen by extended x-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS), neutron and x-ray diffraction. The reversible transition between a crystalline and an amorphous phase and its related property contrast are already employed in non-volatile data storage devices, such as rewritable optical discs and electronic memories. The crystalline phase of the prototypical material GeSb2Te4 is characterized by resonant bonding and pronounced disorder, which help to understand their optical and electrical properties, respectively. A change in bonding, however, should also affect the thermal properties, which will be addressed in this study. Based on EXAFS data analyses it will be shown that the thermal and static atomic displacements are larger in the meta-stable crystalline state. This indicates that the bonds become softer in the crystalline phase. At the same time, the bulk modulus increases upon crystallization. These observations are confirmed by the measured densities of phonon states (DPS), which reveal a vibrational softening of the optical modes upon crystallization. This demonstrates that the change of bonding upon crystallization in phase-change materials also has a profound impact on the lattice dynamics and the resulting thermal properties.

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