Domain imaging in ferroelectric thin films via channeling-contrast backscattered electron microscopy

Jon F. Ihlefeld, Joseph R. Michael, Bonnie B. McKenzie, David A. Scrymgeour, Jon Paul Maria, Elizabeth A. Paisley, Andrew R. Kitahara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Ferroelastic domain walls provide opportunities for deterministically controlling mechanical, optical, electrical, and thermal energy. Domain wall characterization in micro- and nanoscale systems, where their spacing may be of the order of 100 nm or less is presently limited to only a few techniques, such as piezoresponse force microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. These respective techniques cannot, however, independently characterize domain polarization orientation and domain wall motion in technologically relevant capacitor structures or in a non-destructive manner, thus presenting a limitation of their utility. In this work, we show how backscatter scanning electron microscopy utilizing channeling contrast yield can image the ferroelastic domain structure of ferroelectric films with domain wall spacing as narrow as 10 nm. Combined with electron backscatter diffraction to identify grain orientations, this technique provides information on domain orientation and domain wall type that cannot be readily measured using conventional non-destructive methods. In addition to grain orientation identification, this technique enables dynamic domain structure changes to be observed in functioning capacitors utilizing electrodes that are transparent to the high-energy backscattered electrons. This non-destructive, high-resolution domain imaging technique is applicable to a wide variety of ferroelectric thin films and a multitude of material systems where nanometer-scale crystallographic twin characterization is required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1071-1081
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Materials Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • General Materials Science
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)


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