Unexpected phase transition sequence in the ferroelectric Bi4Ti3O12

Yuan-Yuan Guo, Alexandra S. Gibbs, J. Manuel Perez-Mato, Philip Lightfoot

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The high-temperature phase behaviour of the ferroelectric layered perovskite Bi4Ti3O12 has been re-examined by high-resolution powder neutron diffraction. Previous studies, both experimental and theoretical, had suggested conflicting structural models and phase transition sequences, exacerbated by the complex interplay of several competing structural instabilities. Here, we confirm that Bi4Ti3O12 undergoes two separate structural transitions from the aristotype tetragonal phase (space group I4/mmm) to the ambient temperature ferroelectric phase (confirmed as monoclinic, B1a1). An unusual, and previously unconsidered, intermediate paraelectric phase is suggested to exist above TC, with tetragonal symmetry, space group P4/mbm. This phase is peculiar in displaying a unique type of octahedral tilting, in which the triple perovskite blocks of the layered structure alternate between tilted and untilted. This is rationalised in terms of the bonding requirements of the Bi3+ cations within the perovskite blocks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-446
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Union of Crystallography Journal (IUCrJ)
Issue number3
Early online date9 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Perovskite
  • Ferroelectric
  • Powder neutron diffraction


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