Although GeTe-Sb2Te3 (GST) alloys are widely used in data storage, many fundamental issues are still under debate. Here, we demonstrate that the presence of vacancies in the crystalline phase has far-reaching consequences, namely, a triad of twofold coordinated Te atoms with lone-pair electrons generated around the vacancy enables the formation of soft three-center four-electron bonds, whose properties provide an explanation for the unusual characteristics of GST, in particular, the increase in local disorder upon crystallization, the co-existence of a very fast switching rate with a large property contrast, the possibility of a solid-solid amorphization process that excludes conventional melting, and the drastic difference in crystallization behavior between GST and the ideal binary GeTe. Anisotropy of the three-center bonds may serve as an additional degree of freedom for information recording and provide a unified explanation for a variety of unique effects observed in lone-pair semiconductors.
|Journal||Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics|
|Publication status||Published - 2013 Apr 22|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics