Photoassisted amorphization of the phase-change memory alloy Ge 2Sb2Te5

P. Fons, H. Osawa, A. V. Kolobov, T. Fukaya, M. Suzuki, T. Uruga, N. Kawamura, H. Tanida, J. Tominaga

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77 Citations (Scopus)


Subnanosecond time-resolved x-ray absorption measurements have been used to probe dynamical changes in the local structure about Ge atoms in the phase-change alloy Ge2Sb2Te5 during the optical recording (amorphization) process using an optical pump and x-ray probe technique to examine the reversible phase transition from the metastable crystalline phase to the amorphous phase. We provide unambiguous evidence that the amorphization process does not proceed via the molten state but is a photoassisted process. We argue that the transition to the amorphous phase is a consequence of photoassisted destabilization of the resonant bonding present in the crystalline phase. This observation challenges the currently existing paradigm of the phase-change process which implicitly assumes the existence of the molten phase as a prerequisite for the creation of the amorphous phase. Implications from this finding are discussed, including the possibility to use the polarization of light as an extra coordinate for data recording.

Original languageEnglish
Article number041203
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Jul 30
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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