Nucleation, growth, and control of ferroelectric-ferroelastic domains in thin polycrystalline films

Yachin Ivry*, James F. Scott, Ekhard K. H. Salje, Colm Durkan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The unique response of ferroic materials to external excitations facilitates them for diverse technologies, such as nonvolatile memory devices. The primary driving force behind this response is encoded in domain switching. In bulk ferroics, domains switch in a two-step process: nucleation and growth. For ferroelectrics, this can be explained by the Kolmogorov-Avrami-Ishibashi (KAI) model. Nevertheless, it is unclear whether domains remain correlated in finite geometries, as required by the KAI model. Moreover, although ferroelastic domains exist in many ferroelectrics, experimental limitations have hindered the study of their switching mechanisms. This uncertainty limits our understanding of domain switching and controllability, preventing thin-film and polycrystalline ferroelectrics from reaching their full technological potential. Here we used piezoresponse force microscopy to study the switching mechanisms of ferroelectric-ferroelastic domains in thin polycrystalline Pb0.7Zr0.3TiO3 films at the nanometer scale. We have found that switched biferroic domains can nucleate at multiple sites with a coherence length that may span several grains, and that nucleators merge to form mesoscale domains, in a manner consistent with that expected from the KAI model.

Original languageEnglish
Article number205428
Number of pages6
JournalPhysical Review. B, Condensed matter and materials physics
Volume86
Issue number20
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2012

Keywords

  • SCANNING FORCE MICROSCOPY
  • NANODOMAINS
  • DIELECTRICS
  • BOUNDARIES
  • MEMORIES
  • DYNAMICS
  • FATIGUE
  • SCALE

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