Domain pinning near a single-grain boundary in tetragonal and rhombohedral lead zirconate titanate films

D. M. Marincel, H. R. Zhang, J. Britson, A. Belianinov, S. Jesse, S. V. Kalinin, L. Q. Chen, W. M. Rainforth, I. M. Reaney, C. A. Randall, S. Trolier-Mckinstry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The interaction of grain boundaries with ferroelectric domain walls strongly influences the extrinsic contribution to piezoelectric activity in PbZr1-x,TixO3 (PZT), ubiquitous in modern transducers and actuators. However, the fundamental understanding of these phenomena has been limited by complex mechanisms originating from the interplay of atomic-level domain wall pinning, collective domain wall dynamics, and emergent mesoscopic behavior. This contribution utilizes engineered grain boundaries created by depositing epitaxial PZT films with various Zr:Ti ratios onto 24° tilt SrTiO3 bicrystals. The nonlinear piezoelectric response and surface domain structure across the boundary are investigated using piezoresponse force microscopy while the cross-sectional domain structure is studied using transmission electron microscopy. The grain boundary reduces domain wall motion over a width of 800±70nm for PZT 45:55 and 450±30nm for PZT 52:48. Phase field modeling provides an understanding of the elastic and electric fields associated with the grain boundary and local domain configurations. This study demonstrates that complex mesoscopic behaviors can be explored to complement atomic-level pictures of the material system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number134113
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number13
StatePublished - Apr 27 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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