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Magical Beans: New Nano-Sized Particles Could Provide Mega-Sized Data Storage

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Berkeley Lab's Joel Ager, Daryl Chrzan and Eugene Haller

(From left) Joel Ager, Daryl Chrzan and Eugene Haller have shown that Binary Eutectic-Alloy Nanostructures could be applied to both phase-change memory and optical data storage technologies.

Credit: Roy Kaltschmidt / Berkeley Lab

Berkeley Lab researchers have discovered a new class of phase-change materials that could be applied to phase-change random access memory technologies and possibly optical data storage technologies. The binary eutectic-alloy nanostructures (BEANs) are nanocrystal alloys of a metal and semiconductor.

enthalpy curve schematics This schematic shows enthalpy curves sketched for the liquid, crystalline and amorphous phases of a newclass of nanomaterials called "BEANs" for BinaryEutectic-Alloy Nanostructures. Credit: Daryl Chrzan
The scientists found that embedding germanium tin nanocrystals within amorphous silica produced a bilobed nanostructure that was half crystalline metallic and half crystalline semiconductor. "Rapid cooling following pulsed laser melting stabilizes a metastable, amorphous, compositionally mixed phase state at room temperature, while moderate heating followed by slower cooling returns the nanocrystals to their initial bilobed crystalline state," says Berkeley Lab's Daryl Chrzan.

The researchers expect that the two structures' electronic transport and optical properties will differ significantly, and that this difference can be tuned via modifications in composition.

From Berkeley Lab News Center
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