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Title: A Review of Germanium-Antimony-Telluride Phase Change Materials for Non-Volatile Memories and Optical Modulators
Chalcogenide phase change materials based on germanium-antimony-tellurides (GST-PCMs) have shown outstanding properties in non-volatile memory (NVM) technologies due to their high write and read speeds, reversible phase transition, high degree of scalability, low power consumption, good data retention, and multi-level storage capability. However, GST-based PCMs have shown recent promise in other domains, such as in spatial light modulation, beam steering, and neuromorphic computing. This paper reviews the progress in GST-based PCMs and methods for improving the performance within the context of new applications that have come to light in recent years.
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Applied Sciences
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National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract

    Phase-change materials (PCMs) offer a compelling platform for active metaoptics, owing to their large index contrast and fast yet stable phase transition attributes. Despite recent advances in phase-change metasurfaces, a fully integrable solution that combines pronounced tuning measures, i.e., efficiency, dynamic range, speed, and power consumption, is still elusive. Here, we demonstrate an in situ electrically driven tunable metasurface by harnessing the full potential of a PCM alloy, Ge2Sb2Te5(GST), to realize non-volatile, reversible, multilevel, fast, and remarkable optical modulation in the near-infrared spectral range. Such a reprogrammable platform presents a record eleven-fold change in the reflectance (absolute reflectance contrast reaching 80%), unprecedented quasi-continuous spectral tuning over 250 nm, and switching speed that can potentially reach a few kHz. Our scalable heterostructure architecture capitalizes on the integration of a robust resistive microheater decoupled from an optically smart metasurface enabling good modal overlap with an ultrathin layer of the largest index contrast PCM to sustain high scattering efficiency even after several reversible phase transitions. We further experimentally demonstrate an electrically reconfigurable phase-change gradient metasurface capable of steering an incident light beam into different diffraction orders. This work represents a critical advance towards the development of fully integrable dynamic metasurfaces and their potentialmore »for beamforming applications.

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  2. To understand the mechanism underlying the fast, reversible, phase transformation, information about the atomic structure and defects structures in phase change materials class is key. PCMs are investigated for many applications. These devices are chalcogenide based and use self heating to quickly switch between amorphous and crystalline phases, generating orders of magnitude differences in the electrical resistivity. The main challenges with PCMs have been the large power required to heat above crystallization or melting (for melt-quench amorphization) temperatures and limited reliability due to factors such as resistance drifts of the metastable phases, void formation and elemental segregation upon cycling. Characterization of devices and their unique switching behavior result in distinct material properties affected by the atomic arrangement in the respective phase. TEM is used to study the atomic structure of the metastable crystalline phase. The aim is to correlate the microstructure with results from electrical characterization, building on R vs T measurements on various thicknesses GST thin films. To monitor phase changes in real-time as a function of temperature, thin films are deposited directly onto Protochips carriers. The Protochips heating holders provides controlled temperature changes while imaging in the TEM. These studies can provide insights into how changes occur inmore »the various phase transformations even though the rate of temperature change is much slower than the PCM device operation. Other critical processes such as void formation, grain evolution and the cause of resistance drift can thereby be related to changes in structure and chemistry. Materials characterization is performed using Tecnai F30 and Titan ETEM microscopes, operating at 300kV. Both the microscopes can accept the same Protochips heating holders. The K2 direct electron detector camera equipped with the ETEM allows high-speed video recording (1600 f/s) of structural changes occurring in these materials upon heating and cooling. In this presentation, we will describe the effect of heating thin films of different thickness and composition, the changes in crystallinity and grain size, and how these changes correlate with changes in the electrical properties of the films. We will emphasize that it is always important to use low-dose and/or beam blanking techniques to distinguish changes induced by the beam from those due to the heating or introduction of an electric current.« less
  3. The proposed X-ray spatial light modulator (SLM) concept is based on the difference of X-ray scattering from amorphous and crystalline regions of phase change materials (PCMs) such as Ge2Sb2Te5(GST). In our X-ray SLM design, theon” andoff” states correspond to a patterned and homogeneous state of a GST thin film, respectively. The patterned state is obtained by exposing the homogeneous film to laser pulses. In this paper, we present patterning results in GST thin films characterized by microwave impedance microscopy and X-ray small-angle scattering at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource.

  4. Aims. On the Sun, jets in light bridges (LBs) are frequently observed with high-resolution instruments. The respective roles played by convection and the magnetic field in triggering such jets are not yet clear. Methods. We report a small fan-shaped jet along a LB observed by the 1.6m Goode Solar Telescope (GST) with the TiO Broadband Filter Imager (BFI), the Visible Imaging Spectrometer (VIS) in H α , and the Near-InfraRed Imaging Spectropolarimeter (NIRIS), along with the Stokes parameters. The high spatial and temporal resolution of those instruments allowed us to analyze the features identified during the jet event. By constructing the H α Dopplergrams, we found that the plasma is first moving upward, whereas during the second phase of the jet, the plasma is flowing back. Working with time slice diagrams, we investigated the propagation-projected speed of the fan and its bright base. Results. The fan-shaped jet developed within a few minutes, with diverging beams. At its base, a bright point was slipping along the LB and ultimately invaded the umbra of the sunspot. The H α profiles of the bright points enhanced the intensity in the wings, similarly to the case of Ellerman bombs. Co-temporally, the extreme ultraviolet (EUV)more »brightenings developed at the front of the dark material jet and moved at the same speed as the fan, leading us to propose that the fan-shaped jet material compressed and heated the ambient plasma at its extremities in the corona. Conclusions. Our multi-wavelength analysis indicates that the fan-shaped jet could result from magnetic reconnection across the highly diverging field low in the chromosphere, leading to an apparent slipping motion of the jet material along the LB. However, we did not find any opposite magnetic polarity at the jet base, as would typically be expected in such a configuration. We therefore discuss other plausible physical mechanisms, based on waves and convection, that may have triggered the event.« less
  5. We propose a nanogap-enhanced phase-change waveguide with silicon PIN heaters. Thanks to the enhanced light-matter interaction in the nanogap, the proposed structure exhibits strong attenuation (Δα = ∼35 dB/µm) and optical phase (Δneff = ∼1.2) modulation atλ =1550 nm when achieving complete phase transitions. We further investigate two active optical devices based on the proposed waveguide, including an electro-absorption modulator and a 1 × 2 directional-coupler optical switch. Finite-difference time-domain simulation of the proposed modulator shows a high extinction ratio of ∼17 dB at 1550 nm with an active segment of volume only ∼0.004λ3. By exploiting a directional coupler design, we present a 1 × 2 optical switch with an insertion loss of < 4 dB and a compact coupling length of ∼ 15 µm while maintaining small crosstalk less than −7.2 dB over an optical bandwidth of 50 nm. Thermal analysis shows that a 10 V pulse of 30 ns (1×1 modulator) and 55 ns (1×2 switch) in duration is required to raise the GST temperature of the phase-change waveguide above the melting temperature to induce the amorphization; however, the complete crystallization occurs by applying a 5 V pulse of 180 ns (1×1 modulator) and a 6 V pulse of 200 ns (1×2 switch),more »respectively.

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