Imaging of phase change materials below a capping layer using correlative infrared near-field microscopy and electron microscopy

M. Lewin, B. Hauer, M. Bornhöfft, L. Jung, J. Benke, A.-K. U. Michel, J. Mayer, M. Wuttig and T. Taubner

Applied Physics Letters 107, 151902 (2015)
Phase Change Materials (PCM) show two stable states in the solid phase with significantly different optical and electronic properties. They can be switched reversibly between those two states and are promising candidates for future non-volatile memory applications. The development of phase change devices demands characterization tools, yielding information about the switching process at high spatial resolution. Scattering-type Scanning Near-field Optical Microscopy (s-SNOM) allows for spectroscopic analyses of the different optical properties of the PCMs on the nm-scale. By correlating the optical s-SNOM images with transmission electron microscopy images of the same sample, we unambiguously demonstrate the correlation of the infrared optical contrast with the structural state of the phase change material. The investigated sample consists of sandwiched amorphous and crystalline regions of Ag4In3Sb67Te26 below a 100 nm thick (ZnS)80−(SiO2)20 capping layer. Our results demonstrate the sensitivity of s-SNOM to small dielectric near-field contrasts even below a comparably thick capping layer (100 nm).