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Ferroelectric domain switching


Asymmetric domain switching of PZT thin-film capacitor by in-situ biasing TEM

The spontaneous polarization in ferroelectrics can be switched by an applied electric field, which occurs through the nucleation and subsequent forward and sideways growth of the switched domains. We reported in-situ TEM observation of the dynamic motion of ferroelectric/ferroelastic domain walls during the 180° polarization switching of a technically important Pb(Zr1-xTix)O3 (PZT) thin film capacitor. The preferential, but asymmetric, nucleation and forward growth of switched (ferroelectric) c-domains were observed at the PZT/electrode interfaces, arising due to the built-in electric field introduced beneath each interface. The subsequent sideways growth of the switched domains was inhibited by the depolarization field due to imperfect charge compensation, which contributed further to the asymmetric switching behavior. It was found that the preexisting (ferroelastic) a-domains also actively participated in the out-of-plane polarization switching, by splitting into fine a- and c-domains constituting a 90° stripe domain pattern. This real-time observations uncover the origin of domain wall motion, further leading to a more comprehensive understanding of the ferroelectric switching process for practical applications. - Further information: J.K. Lee, et al. Acta Materialia 61(18), 6765-6777 (2013)