Elastic anomalies are signatures of phase transitions in condensed matters and have traditionally been studied using various techniques spanning from neutron scattering to static mechanical testing. Here, using band-excitation elastic/piezoresponse spectroscopy, we probed sub-MHz elastic dynamics of a tip bias-induced rhombohedralâ 'tetragonal phase transition of strained (001)-BiFeO 3 (rhombohedral) ferroelectric thin films from â 1/410 3 nm 3 sample volumes. Near this transition, we observed that the Youngâ ™ s modulus intrinsically softens by over 30% coinciding with two-to three-fold enhancement of local piezoresponse. Coupled with phase-field modelling, we also addressed the influence of polarization switching and mesoscopic structural heterogeneities (for example, domain walls) on the kinetics of this phase transition, thereby providing fresh insights into the morphotropic phase boundary in ferroelectrics. Furthermore, the giant electrically tunable elastic stiffness and corresponding electromechanical properties observed here suggest potential applications of BiFeO3 in next-generation frequency-agile electroacoustic devices, based on the utilization of the soft modes underlying successive ferroelectric phase transitions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)