Emergent ferroelectricity in subnanometer binary oxide films on silicon

Suraj S. Cheema, Nirmaan Shanker, Shang Lin Hsu, Yoonsoo Rho, Cheng Hsiang Hsu, Vladimir A. Stoica, Zhan Zhang, John W. Freeland, Padraic Shafer, Costas P. Grigoropoulos, Jim Ciston, Sayeef Salahuddin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


The critical size limit of voltage-switchable electric dipoles has extensive implications for energy-efficient electronics, underlying the importance of ferroelectric order stabilized at reduced dimensionality. We report on the thickness-dependent antiferroelectric-to-ferroelectric phase transition in zirconium dioxide (ZrO2) thin films on silicon. The emergent ferroelectricity and hysteretic polarization switching in ultrathin ZrO2, conventionally a paraelectric material, notably persists down to a film thickness of 5 angstroms, the fluorite-structure unit-cell size. This approach to exploit three-dimensional centrosymmetric materials deposited down to the two-dimensional thickness limit, particularly within this model fluorite-structure system that possesses unconventional ferroelectric size effects, offers substantial promise for electronics, demonstrated by proof-of-principle atomic-scale nonvolatile ferroelectric memory on silicon. Additionally, it is also indicative of hidden electronic phenomena that are achievable across a wide class of simple binary materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)648-652
Number of pages5
Issue number6593
StatePublished - May 6 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Emergent ferroelectricity in subnanometer binary oxide films on silicon'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this