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J Nanosci Nanotechnol. 2007 Jan;7(1):65-93.

Nanophase change for data storage applications.

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Data Storage Institute, DSI Building, 5 Engineering Drive 1, Singapore 117608.


Phase change materials are widely used for date storage. The most widespread and important applications are rewritable optical disc and Phase Change Random Access Memory (PCRAM), which utilizes the light and electric induced phase change respectively. For decades, miniaturization has been the major driving force to increase the density. Now the working unit area of the current data storage media is in the order of nano-scale. On the nano-scale, extreme dimensional and nano-structural constraints and the large proportion of interfaces will cause the deviation of the phase change behavior from that of bulk. Hence an in-depth understanding of nanophase change and the related issues has become more and more important. Nanophase change can be defined as: phase change at the scale within nano range of 100 nm, which is size-dependent, interface-dominated and surrounding materials related. Nanophase change can be classified into two groups, thin film related and structure related. Film thickness and clapping materials are key factors for thin film type, while structure shape, size and surrounding materials are critical parameters for structure type. In this paper, the recent development of nanophase change is reviewed, including crystallization of small element at nano size, thickness dependence of crystallization, effect of clapping layer on the phase change of phase change thin film and so on. The applications of nanophase change technology on data storage is introduced, including optical recording such as super lattice like optical disc, initialization free disc, near field, super-RENS, dual layer, multi level, probe storage, and PCRAM including, superlattice-like structure, side edge structure, and line type structure. Future key research issues of nanophase change are also discussed.

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