Persistence of the R3m Phase in Powder GeTe at High Pressure and High Temperature

As a phase-change material (PCM), rhombohedral GeTe (space group R3m) was believed to transform to the cubic rock-salt phase (B1) at 3–4 GPa, associated with the disappearance of a Peierls distortion. However, using a combination of synchrotron X-ray diffraction and theoretical calculations, we found that the R3m phase persists from ambient pressure up to pressures of about 15.8 GPa, in contrast to previous reports. Neither was the B1 phase observed in a heating X-ray powder diffraction experiment. The spurious transformation from R3m to B1 is caused by changes to the compression ratio of lattice parameters in the R3m phase under high pressure/temperature. These findings provide insight into transitions of PCMs, relevant to other materials undergoing displacive transitions under high pressure/temperature.