Research Article

Femtosecond x-ray diffraction reveals a liquid–liquid phase transition in phase-change materials

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Science  14 Jun 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6445, pp. 1062-1067
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw1773

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Structural switch for fast switching

Phase-change materials are important for computer memory. They can quickly switch from glassy to crystalline using a thermal pulse and then lock in that structure for a long time at lower temperature. Zalden et al. probed the underlying atomic structure of two phase-change materials during this switching using ultrafast x-rays and simulations (see the Perspective by Rao et al.). A liquid-liquid phase transition in both materials allowed fast switching at high temperatures. The lower-temperature glass locks in the structure, allowing for long-term memory storage.

Science, this issue p. 1062; see also p. 1032

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