In Situ Temperature-Dependent Transmission Electron Microscopy Studies of Pseudobinary m GeTe·Bi2Te3 (m = 3-8) Nanowires and First-Principles Calculations

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Phase-change nanowires (NWs) have emerged as critical materials for fast-switching nonvolatile memory devices. In this study, we synthesized a series of mGeTe·Bi2Te3 (GBT) pseudobinary alloy NWs - Ge3Bi2Te6 (m = 3), Ge4Bi2Te7 (m = 4), Ge5Bi2Te8 (m = 5), Ge6Bi2Te9 (m = 6), and Ge8Bi2Te11 (m = 8) - and investigated their composition-dependent thermal stabilities and electrical properties. As m decreases, the phase of the NWs evolves from the cubic (C) to the hexagonal (H) phase, which produces unique superlattice structures that consist of periodic 2.2-3.8 nm slabs for m = 3-8. In situ temperature-dependent transmission electron microscopy reveals the higher thermal stability of the compositions with lower m values, and a phase transition from the H phase into the single-crystalline C phase at high temperatures (400°C). First-principles calculations, performed for the superlattice structures (m = 1-8) of GBT and mGeTe·Sb2Te3 (GST), show an increasing stability of the H phase (versus the C phase) with decreasing m; the difference in stability being more marked for GBT than for GST. The calculations explain remarkably the phase evolution of the GBT and GST NWs as well as the composition-dependent thermal stabilities. Measurement of the current-voltage curves for individual GBT NWs shows that the resistivity is in the range 3-25 mΩ·cm, and the resistivity of the H phase is lower than that of the C phase, which has been supported by the calculations.

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Nano Letters

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