A gradual uncontrollable increase in the resistivity of the amorphous phase of phase-change alloys, such as Ge2Sb2Te5, known as drift, is a serious technological issue for application of phase-change memory. While it has been proposed that drift is related to structural relaxation, no direct structural results have been reported so far. Here, we report the results of Ge L3-edge x-ray absorption measurements that suggest that the drift in electrical conductivity is associated with the gradual conversion of tetrahedrally coordinated Ge sites into pyramidal sites, while the system still remains in the amorphous phase. Based on electronic configuration arguments, we propose that during this process, which is governed by the existence of lone-pair electrons, the concentration of free carriers in the system decreases resulting in an increase in resistance despite the structural relaxation towards the crystalline phase.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Physics and Astronomy