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      An optoelectronic framework enabled by low-dimensional phase-change films.

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      Nature

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          Abstract

          The development of materials whose refractive index can be optically transformed as desired, such as chalcogenide-based phase-change materials, has revolutionized the media and data storage industries by providing inexpensive, high-speed, portable and reliable platforms able to store vast quantities of data. Phase-change materials switch between two solid states--amorphous and crystalline--in response to a stimulus, such as heat, with an associated change in the physical properties of the material, including optical absorption, electrical conductance and Young's modulus. The initial applications of these materials (particularly the germanium antimony tellurium alloy Ge2Sb2Te5) exploited the reversible change in their optical properties in rewritable optical data storage technologies. More recently, the change in their electrical conductivity has also been extensively studied in the development of non-volatile phase-change memories. Here we show that by combining the optical and electronic property modulation of such materials, display and data visualization applications that go beyond data storage can be created. Using extremely thin phase-change materials and transparent conductors, we demonstrate electrically induced stable colour changes in both reflective and semi-transparent modes. Further, we show how a pixelated approach can be used in displays on both rigid and flexible films. This optoelectronic framework using low-dimensional phase-change materials has many likely applications, such as ultrafast, entirely solid-state displays with nanometre-scale pixels, semi-transparent 'smart' glasses, 'smart' contact lenses and artificial retina devices.

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          Most cited references 25

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          Phase-change materials for rewriteable data storage.

          Phase-change materials are some of the most promising materials for data-storage applications. They are already used in rewriteable optical data storage and offer great potential as an emerging non-volatile electronic memory. This review looks at the unique property combination that characterizes phase-change materials. The crystalline state often shows an octahedral-like atomic arrangement, frequently accompanied by pronounced lattice distortions and huge vacancy concentrations. This can be attributed to the chemical bonding in phase-change alloys, which is promoted by p-orbitals. From this insight, phase-change alloys with desired properties can be designed. This is demonstrated for the optical properties of phase-change alloys, in particular the contrast between the amorphous and crystalline states. The origin of the fast crystallization kinetics is also discussed.
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            Modeling photocurrent action spectra of photovoltaic devices based on organic thin films

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              Low-cost and nanoscale non-volatile memory concept for future silicon chips.

              Non-volatile 'flash' memories are key components of integrated circuits because they retain their data when power is interrupted. Despite their great commercial success, the semiconductor industry is searching for alternative non-volatile memories with improved performance and better opportunities for scaling down the size of memory cells. Here we demonstrate the feasibility of a new semiconductor memory concept. The individual memory cell is based on a narrow line of phase-change material. By sending low-power current pulses through the line, the phase-change material can be programmed reversibly between two distinguishable resistive states on a timescale of nanoseconds. Reducing the dimensions of the phase-change line to the nanometre scale improves the performance in terms of speed and power consumption. These advantages are achieved by the use of a doped-SbTe phase-change material. The simplicity of the concept promises that integration into a logic complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) process flow might be possible with only a few additional lithographic steps.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature
                Nature
                1476-4687
                0028-0836
                Jul 10 2014
                : 511
                : 7508
                Affiliations
                [1 ] Department of Materials, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PH, UK.
                [2 ] College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, Harrison Building, North Park Road, Exeter EX4 4QF, UK.
                Article
                nature13487
                10.1038/nature13487
                25008527

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