Although some methods to improve phase-change memory efficiency have been proposed, an effective experimental approach to induce a phase-change like process without external heat energy has not yet been reported. Herein we have shown that GeTe is a prototype phase-change material, which can exhibit a non-thermal phase-change-like process under uniaxial stress. Due to its structural characteristics like directional structural instability and resonance bonding under 1% uniaxial stress, we observed that bond switching in the GeTe film between short and long bonds is possible. Due to this phase change, GeTe displays the same phase-change as crystal layer rotation. Crystal layer rotation has not been observed in the conventional phase change process using intermediate states, but it is related to the structural characteristics required for maintaining local coordination. Moreover, since the resonance bonding characteristics are effectively turned off upon applying uniaxial stress, the high-frequency dielectric constant can be significantly decreased. Our results also show that the most significant process in the non-thermal phase transition of phase-change materials is the modulation of the lattice relaxation process after the initial perturbation, rather than the method inducing the perturbation itself. Finally, these consequences suggest that a new type of phase-change memory is possible through changes in the optical properties under stress.
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