Ferroelectrics everywhere: Ferroelectricity in magnesium substituted zinc oxide thin films

Kevin Ferri, Saiphaneendra Bachu, Wanlin Zhu, Mario Imperatore, John Hayden, Nasim Alem, Noel Giebink, Susan Trolier-McKinstry, Jon Paul Maria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


We demonstrate ferroelectricity in Mg-substituted ZnO thin films with the wurtzite structure. Zn1−xMgxO films are grown by dual-cathode reactive magnetron sputtering on (111)-Pt // (0001)-Al2O3 substrates at temperatures ranging from 26 to 200 °C for compositions spanning from x = 0 to x = 0.37. X-ray diffraction indicates a decrease in the c-lattice parameter and an increase in the a-lattice parameter with increasing Mg content, resulting in a nearly constant c/a axial ratio of 1.595 over this composition range. Transmission electron microscopy studies show abrupt interfaces between Zn1−xMgxO films and the Pt electrode. When prepared at pO2 = 0.025, film surfaces are populated by abnormally oriented grains as measured by atomic force microscopy for Mg concentrations >29%. Raising pO2 to 0.25 eliminates the misoriented grains. Optical measurements show increasing bandgap values with increasing Mg content. When prepared on a 200 °C substrate, films display ferroelectric switching with remanent polarizations exceeding 100 μC cm−2 and coercive fields below 3 MV cm−1 when the Mg content is between ∼30% and ∼37%. Substrate temperature can be lowered to ambient conditions, and when doing so, capacitor stacks show only minor sacrifices to crystal orientation and nearly identical remanent polarization values; however, coercive fields drop below 2 MV/cm. Using ambient temperature deposition, we demonstrate ferroelectric capacitor stacks integrated directly with polymer substrate surfaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number044101
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 28 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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