Domain Wall Damping and Elastic Softening in SrTiO3: Evidence for Polar Twin Walls

J. F. Scott*, E. K. H. Salje, M. A. Carpenter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Citations (Scopus)


A marked change in anelastic properties, namely, elastic softening accompanied by increased damping, has been observed in a single crystal of SrTiO3 below similar to 50 K by resonant ultrasound spectroscopy. This correlates with other subtle changes in structure and properties which have been explained in the past in terms of a novel quantum state and the formation of polar clusters in an incipient ferroelectric structure. Comparison of the new data, obtained at frequencies near 1 MHz, with mechanical spectroscopy data collected at a few Hz or a few kHz, reveals a distinct dispersion with frequency and is interpreted in terms of an acoustic loss mechanism which depends primarily on the mobility under stress of ferroelastic twin walls. In most ferroelastic materials, it is found that the twin walls become immobile below some low-temperature interval due to the pinning effects of defects. It is proposed instead for SrTiO3 that associated with the local atomic displacements within the incipient ferroelectric clusters is a change in structure of the twin walls such that their mobility becomes enhanced. We propose that the structural change is not correlated with structural changes of the bulk material but relates to increasing polarity of the walls. This interpretation implies that ferroelastic domain walls in SrTiO3 become ferroelectric at low temperatures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number187601
Number of pages5
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2012


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