Electrical Resistance and Structural Changes on Crystallizaiton Process of Amorphous Ge-Te Thin Films


GeTe-Sb2Te3 pseudobinary compounds are attracting considerable attention as phase change materials for optical disk and phase change random access memory (PRAM). In these compounds, Ge2Sb2Te5 (GST) has been used for an optical disk memory such as DVD-RAM because the crystallization by laser beam heating is very fast (∼20ns). Recently, the GST has been much considered as material for PRAM and, therefore, the electrical resistance change due to crystallization and the phase change by applying an electrical current have been widely investigated. On the other hand, although GeTe compound has been suggested as the phase change material for the optical disk by Chen et al in 1986, the study focusing on the phase change material for PRAM is limited. Since GeTe is known to show the phenomenon of electrical switching, this compound has a potential of PRAM. In this study, the electrical resistance and crystalline structural changes on crystallization process in Ge-Te thin films were investigated.

Films of amorphous Ge100–xTex (x : 46-94) with 200 nm thickness were deposited by sputtering of GeTe alloy target or co-sputtering of GeTe and Te targets on SiO2/Si substrates. In-situ electrical resistance measurements during heating process of these films were performed by two point probe method in a heating rate of 2∼50°C/min. X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis was employed for the structural identification of thin films for 10-60° in 2′ using X-ray diffractometer with Cu-K. Transmission electron microscope (TEM) analysis was carried out to investigate the microstructure and to identify crystalline structure. The compositions of these films were confirmed by energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) attached TEM.

All as-deposited Ge-Te films were confirmed amorphous by XRD and TEM. From the in-situ electrical resistance measurements, it is found that resistance change with crystallization process depends on the composition and the stoichiometric GeTe compound shows abrupt electrical resistance change at around 190 °C. The crystallization temperature of GeTe was higher than that of GST and resistance difference between the amorphous and the crystal was also larger. While the electrical resistance of GST film gradually decreased with increasing temperature after the crystallization at around 160 °C, that of GeTe film showed small temperature dependence after crystallization. It was found by X-ray measurement observation that the amorphous GeTe compound film crystallized first into a cubic state, and then into a stable rhombohedral state by further heating. The crystallization kinetics of Ge-Te thin films will be also presented.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. [1]

    N. Yamada, E. Ohno, K. Nishiuchi, N. Akahira and M. Takao, J. Appl. Phys., 69, 2849 (1991).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. [2]

    M. H. R. Lankhorst, B. W. S. M. M. Ketelaars and R. A. M. Wolters, Nat. Mat., 4, 347 (2005).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. [3]

    Y. C. Chen, C. T. Rettner, S. Raoux, G. W. Burr, S. H. Chen, R. M. Shelby, M. Salinga, W. P. Risk, T. D. Happ, G. M. McClelland, M. Breitwisch, A. Schrott, J. B. Philipp, M. H. Lee, R. Cheek, T. Nirschl, M. Lamorey, C. F. Chen, E. Joseph, S. Zaidi, B. Yee, H. L. Lung, R. Bergmann and C. Lam, IEDM Tech Dig., 346910. 1 (2006).

  4. [4]

    M. Chen, K. A. Rubin and R. W. Barton, Appl. Phys. Lett., 49, 502 (1986).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. [5]

    L. E. Shelimova, N. Kh. Abrikosov and W. Zhdanova, Zh. Neorg. Khim., 10 (5), 1200 (1965) [Russ. J. Inorg. Chem., 10 (5), 650 (1965)].

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. [6]

    M. M. Abdel-Aziz, Appl. Sur. Sci., 253, 2059 (2006).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. [7]

    T. Chattopadhyay, J. X. Boucherle and H. G. von Schnering, J. Phys. C: Solid State Phys., 20, 1431 (1987).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. [8]

    H. Fukumoto, K. Tsunetomo and T. Imura, J. Phys. Soc. Jpn., 56, 158 (1987).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. [9]

    D. J. Sarrach, J. P. DeNeufville and W. L. Haworth, J. Non-Cryst. Solids, 22, 245 (1976).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. [10]

    R. Messier, R. Roy, Mat. Res. Bull., 6, 749 (1971).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. [11]

    I. Kaban, E. Dost and W. Hoyer, J. Alloys and Compounds, 379, 1661 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yuta Saito.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Saito, Y., Sutou, Y. & Koike, J. Electrical Resistance and Structural Changes on Crystallizaiton Process of Amorphous Ge-Te Thin Films. MRS Online Proceedings Library 1160, 1205 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-1160-H12-05

Download citation