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An expansion of the film surface is observed in amorphous germanium based chalcogenide films when an electron beam is focused in pulsed or fixed mode on the film surface. For thin films of 0.1–1 μm thick the expansion extends laterally over a range of 0.5–1.5 μm and the vertical expansion extends from 0.1–0.6 μm. Increasing the current density of the probe results in an increase in the thickness and a decrease in the width of these features. This phenomenon can be explained in terms of theoretical electrostatics. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.