By Dr. Cameron Chai
Researchers from the Department of Materials Science at the University of Cambridge and Optoelectronic Research Centre at the University of Southampton have conducted a study on the phase change memory materials using advanced equipment and MEMS sensors.
The researchers examined the behavior of these semiconductors when they were heated rapidly at about 10,000°C per second. The collaborative study results have shown that crystal growth rates of the phase change materials are much faster than expected and also their growth behavior does not depend on the environment.
Professor Dan Hewak at the University of Southampton stated that they have been performing research on innovative phase change materials and glasses for more than a decade. However, understanding the crystallization and melting behaviors of these materials when heated, has been limited to the heating rates of up to 10°C per minute by using traditional thermal analysis methods. In order to enhance the memory devices, it is necessary to understand the properties of the materials at the same heating rates, concluded Dan Hewak.
This breakthrough is very important as it provides an entirely new insight in understanding the rapid changes that happen in the materials used for fabricating memory devices, quoted Professors Martin Salinga and Matthias Wuttig from the RWTH Aachen University based in Germany.
The process of reading and writing data in optical memory devices like DVDs and CD-RWs and emerging electronic memory devices can occur at very high speeds of nanoseconds. However, the changes that take place in these materials upon heating can be understood through experiments, where heating rates are very slow. Thus, understanding the behavioral changes of materials can lead to the development of smaller, faster and highly energy-efficient communication devices.