Nanodomain patterns in ultra-tetragonal lead titanate (PbTiO3)

Amit Kumar*, Joseph G.M. Guy, Linxing Zhang, Jun Chen, J. Marty Gregg, James F. Scott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Very recently, the discovery of ultra-tetragonal PbTiO3 thin films was reported [Zhang et al., Science, 361, 494 (2018)], in which the switchable out-of-plane polarization was seen to be almost twice that of any previously known ferroelectric. To understand more about this system and to explore features that might contribute to these remarkable functional properties, we have mapped the polarization microstructure on the nanoscale using piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM) (scan sizes less than 700 nm). Our study reveals an extremely fine-scale pattern, with individual domains typically 20-50 nm in size, all of which exhibit both out-of-plane and in-plane polarization components. In-plane vector PFM polarization maps show strongly charged quadrant-lattice domain arrays with fourfold domain wall junctions (vertices). The existence of fourfold vertices in ferroelectrics is rare but can be explained via the "Ashkin-Teller"model, in which very large interfacial lattice mismatch strains and local electric fields play a role. This ultra-tetragonal ferroelectric system was expected to contain straightforward c-axis out-of-plane 180° domains, but instead shows an extremely rich nanoscale domain tiling pattern; these unusual nanodomains may be important in facilitating the extremely high switchable polarization values previously reported.

Original languageEnglish
Article number182903
Number of pages5
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2020


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