Amorphous thin films of Ge2Sb2Te5, sputter-deposited on a thin-film gold electrode, are investigated for the purpose of understanding the local electrical conductivity of recorded marks under the influence of focused laser beam. Being amorphous, the as-deposited chalcogenide films have negligible electrical conductivity. With the aid of a focused laser beam, however, we have written on these films micron-sized crystalline marks, ablated holes surrounded by crystalline rings, and other multi-ring structures containing both amorphous and crystalline zones. Within these structures, nano-scale regions of superior local conductivity have been mapped and probed using our high-resolution, high-sensitivity conductive-tip atomic force microscope (C-AFM). Scanning electron microscopy and energy-dispersive spectrometry have also been used to clarify the origins of high conductivity in and around the recorded marks. When the Ge 2Sb2Te5 layer is sufficiently thin, and when laser crystallization/ablation is used to define long isolated crystalline stripes on the samples, we find the C-AFM-based method of extracting information from the recorded marks to be superior to other forms of microscopy for this particular class of materials. Given the tremendous potential of chalcogenides as the leading media candidates for high-density memories, local electrical characterization of marks recorded on as-deposited amorphous Ge 2Sb2Te5 films provides useful information for furthering research and development efforts in this important area of modern technology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics