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Phys Rev Lett. 2009 May 22;102(20):205502. Epub 2009 May 19.

Unravelling the mechanism of pressure induced amorphization of phase change materials.

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Dipartimento di Scienza dei Materiali, Università di Milano-Bicocca, I-20125, Milano, Italy.


Based on ab initio molecular dynamics simulations, we identify the atomistic mechanism of the pressure induced amorphization of Ge(2)Sb(2)Te(5). The simulations reveal that homopolar Ge/Sb bonds appear in cubic Ge(2)Sb(2)Te(5) under pressure, giving rise to square rings rotated by 45 degrees with respect to the crystalline axis whose formation is induced by the displacement of Te atoms filling the voids of neighboring Ge/Sb stoichiometric vacancies. The concentration of these topological defects increases with pressure up to 21 GPa at which the system is destabilized and transforms into an amorphous phase in agreement with experiments.

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