Fragile-to-Strong Transition in Phase-Change Material Ge3Sb6Te5

Julian Pries, Hans Weber, Julia Benke-Jacob, Ivan Kaban, Shuai Wei, Matthias Wuttig, Pierre Lucas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Chalcogenide phase-change materials combine a remarkable set of properties that makes them promising candidates for future non-volatile memory applications. Binary data storage exploits the high contrast in electrical and optical properties between the covalent amorphous and metavalent crystalline phase. Here the authors perform an analysis of the liquid phase kinetics of the phase-change material Ge3Sb6Te5, which is the key to ultrafast switching speeds. By employing four experimental techniques, the viscosity is measured over sixteen orders of magnitude despite its propensity for fast crystallization. These measurements reveal that the liquid undergoes a transition in viscosity–temperature dependence associated with a liquid–liquid phase transition. The system exhibits a shallow viscosity change with temperature near the glass transition which stabilizes the memory cells in the amorphous state and which limits the severity of relaxation processes. Meanwhile, when heated during the writing process, the fragility increases to more than double, causing the viscosity to drop rapidly enabling a nanosecond crystallization speed. This change in viscosity–temperature dependence is highly unusual among glass forming liquids and is reminiscent of the behavior of water. This viscosity transition is also key to the technological success of phase-change materials for computer memory applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2202714
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number31
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022


  • crystallization kinetics
  • fragile-to-strong transitions
  • liquid-liquid transitions
  • phase-change materials
  • undercooled liquids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Electrochemistry
  • Biomaterials


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