In this work, the morphology, crystallization process and crystal structure of the phase-change material TiSbTe (TST) alloy have been successfully established, which is essential for applying this alloy in phase-change memory. Specifically, atomic force microscopy (AFM) was employed to characterize the as-deposited and post-annealed thin films, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analyses of the films annealed in situ were used in combination with selected-area electron diffraction (SAED) and radial distribution function (RDF) analyses to investigate the structural evolution from the amorphous phase to the polycrystalline phase. Moreover, the presence of structures with medium-range order in amorphous TST, which is beneficial for high-speed crystallization, was indicated by the structure factors S(Q)s. The crystallization temperature was determined to be approximately 170 °C, and the grain size varied from several to dozens of nanometers. As the temperature increased, particularly above 200 °C, the first single peak of the rG(r) curves transformed into double shoulder peaks due to the increasing impact of the TiTe bonds. In general, the majority of Ti atoms were doped into the SbTe lattice and tended to form structural defects, whereas the remainder of the Ti atoms aggregated, leading to the appearance of TiTe2 phase separation, as confirmed by the SAED patterns, high-angle annular dark field scanning transmission electron microscopy (HAADF-STEM) images and corresponding energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX) mappings.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.