Over the past few years, several studies have reported the existence of polar phases in n = 2 Ruddlesden-Popper layer perovskites by trilinear coupling of oxygen octahedral rotations (OOR) and polar distortions, a phenomenon termed as hybrid improper ferroelectricity. This phenomenon has opened an avenue to expand the available compositions of ferroelectric and piezoelectric layered oxides. In this study, we report a new polar n = 2 Ruddlesden-Popper layered niobate, Li2SrNb2O7, which undergoes a structural transformation to an antipolar phase when cooled to 90 K. This structural transition results from a change in the phase of rotation of the octahedral layers within the perovskite slabs across the interlayers. First-principles calculations predicted that the antipolar Pnam phase would compete with the polar A21am phase and that both would be energetically lower than the previously assigned centrosymmetric Amam phase. This phase transition was experimentally observed by a combination of synchrotron X-ray diffraction, powder neutron diffraction, and electrical and nonlinear optical characterization techniques. The competition between symmetry breaking to yield polar layer perovskites and hybrid improper antiferroelectrics provides new insight into the rational design of antiferroelectric materials that can have applications as electrostatic capacitors for energy storage.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Chemistry
- General Chemical Engineering
- Materials Chemistry