Because of their robust switching capability, chalcogenide glass materials have been used for a wide range of applications, including optical storages devices. These phase transitions are achieved by laser irradiation via thermal processes. Recent studies have suggested the potential of nonthermal phase transitions in the chalcogenide glass material Ge2 Sb2 Te 5 triggered by ultrashort optical pulses; however, a detailed understanding of the amorphization and damage mechanisms governed by nonthermal processes is still lacking. Here we performed ultrafast time-resolved electron diffraction and single-shot optical pump-probe measurements followed by femtosecond near-ultraviolet pulse irradiation to study the structural dynamics of polycrystalline Ge2, Sb2, Te 5. The experimental results present a nonthermal crystal-to-amorphous phase transition of Ge2 Sb2 Te,5 initiated by the displacements of Ge atoms. Above the fluence threshold, we found that the permanent amorphization caused by multi-displacement effects is accompanied by a partial hexagonal crystallization.
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