Ames Laboratory; Physics and Astronomy
Physics and Astronomy, Ames Laboratory
Journal of Materials Chemistry C
Phase-change memory takes advantage of the fast phase transition between amorphous and crystalline phases of phase-change materials (e.g., Ge2Sb2Te5 or GST). To date, while the “SET” process (crystallization of GST glass) has been intensively studied, studies on the “RESET” process (melt-quenching amorphization of GST) are still limited. In this work, we explored the structural changes of GST upon rapid cooling by ab initio molecular dynamics simulations and atomistic cluster alignment (ACA) analysis. Different from other methods which only focus on the nearest bonding atoms, the ACA method can study both the short- and medium-range order clusters containing atoms beyond the first-neighboring shell and enables us to explore the changes of cluster structures in a larger scale. The results reveal that low-coordinated octahedral clusters tend to become high-coordinated ones, and Ge-centered octahedral structures change to tetrahedrons whereas Sb-centered tetrahedrons transform to octahedral structures during the amorphization process. Interestingly, tetrahedrons show aggregation in liquid and supercooled liquid in contrast to 6-fold octahedrons which present notable aggregation in amorphous GST. Moreover, our study showed that wrong bonds (Ge–Ge, Sb–Sb, Ge–Sb and Te–Te bonds) can promote the formation of large rings, and irreducible rings tend to separate into smaller and larger rings as the temperature is decreased. Our findings provide useful insights into the formation process and the structure of amorphous GST, which is valuable for facilitating the application of phase change materials.
DOE Contract Number(s)
Iowa State University Digital Repository, Ames IA (United States)