Ferroelectric domain walls, topological entities separating domains of uniform polarization, are promising candidates as active elements for nanoscale memories. In such applications, controlled nucleation and stabilization of domain walls are critical. Here, using in situ transmission electron microscopy and phase-field simulations, a controlled nucleation of vertically oriented 109° domain walls in (110)-oriented BiFeO3 (BFO) thin films is reported. In the switching experiment, reversed domains that are nucleated preferentially at the nanoscale edges of the “crest and sag” pattern-like electrode under external bias subsequently grow into a stable stripe configuration. In addition, when triangular pockets (with an in-plane polarization component) are present, these domain walls are pinned to form stable flux-closure domains. Phase field simulations show that i) field enhancement at the edges of the electrode causes site-specific domain nucleation, and ii) the local electrostatics at the domain walls drives the formation of flux closure domains, thus stabilizing the striped pattern, irrespective of the initial configuration. The results demonstrate how flux closure pinning can be exploited in conjunction with electrode patterning and substrate orientation to achieve a desired topological defect configuration. These insights constitute critical advancements in exploiting domain walls in next generation ferroelectronic devices.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Chemistry
- General Materials Science
- Condensed Matter Physics