Atomic-scale mechanisms of ferroelastic domain-wall-mediated ferroelectric switching

Peng Gao, Jason Britson, Jacob R. Jokisaari, Christopher T. Nelson, Seung Hyub Baek, Yiran Wang, Chang Beom Eom, Long Qing Chen, Xiaoqing Pan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


Polarization switching in ferroelectric thin films occurs via nucleation and growth of 180domains through a highly inhomogeneous process in which the kinetics are largely controlled by defects, interfaces and pre-existing domain walls. Here we present the first real-time, atomic-scale observations and phase-field simulations of domain switching dominated by pre-existing, but immobile, ferroelastic domains in Pb(Zr 0.2 Ti 0.8)O 3 thin films. Our observations reveal a novel hindering effect, which occurs via the formation of a transient layer with a thickness of several unit cells at an otherwise charged interface between a ferroelastic domain and a switched domain. This transient layer possesses a low-magnitude polarization, with a dipole glass structure, resembling the dead layer. The present study provides an atomic level explanation of the hindering of ferroelectric domain motion by ferroelastic domains. Hindering can be overcome either by applying a higher bias or by removing the as-grown ferroelastic domains in fabricated nanostructures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2791
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


Dive into the research topics of 'Atomic-scale mechanisms of ferroelastic domain-wall-mediated ferroelectric switching'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this