Ferroelastic twin domain patterns and polar domain walls of BiVO4 thin films via phase-field simulations

Ren Ci Peng, Xiaoxing Cheng, Pao Wen Shao, Fei Xue, Ying Hao Chu, Long Qing Chen, Yichun Zhou

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Polar domain walls in centrosymmetric ferroelastics (e.g., BiVO4 films) give rise to inhomogeneity and offer promises for solar energy conversion applications via expediting charge-carrier separation. However, the origin of polar domain walls and the relationship between them and spontaneous strain from structural phase transition remain elusive at the mesoscale in BiVO4 films. Here, from the perspective of phenomenological thermodynamics, the relationship between four variants of monoclinic (M) phase and the corresponding lattice parameters during the tetragonal-monoclinic (T-M) phase transition is revealed. Using phase-field simulations, it suggests that the formation of four variants of ferroelastic twin domains arises from spontaneous strain from T-M phase transition. Moreover, it is demonstrated that (i) polar domain walls in BiVO4 films originate from the flexoelectric effect induced by strain gradient across the domain walls during phase transition process; (ii) shear strain gradient dominates the contribution to the polarization vectors at the domain walls; (iii) 180° head-to-head or tail-to-tail in-plane polarization configurations emerge at the adjacent domain walls. The stability of several types of ferroelastic domain walls is also analyzed from the point of view of total free energy. These results not only provide a fundamental understanding of the origin of polar domain walls and the formation mechanisms of ferroelastic twin patterns, but also stimulate potential applications of polar domain walls of non-polar BiVO4 films in energy conversion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number119297
JournalActa Materialia
StatePublished - Oct 15 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Metals and Alloys

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