Mesoscopic harmonic mapping of electromechanical response in a relaxor ferroelectric

Rama K. Vasudevan, Shujun Zhang, Jilai Ding, M. Baris Okatan, Stephen Jesse, Sergei V. Kalinin, Nazanin Bassiri-Gharb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Relaxor-ferroelectrics are renowned for very large electrostrictive response, enabling applications in transducers, actuators, and energy harvesters. However, insight into the dissimilar contributions (polarization rotation, wall motion) to the electromechanical response from electrostrictive strain, and separation of such contributions from linear piezoelectric response are largely ignored at the mesoscale. Here, we employ a band-excitation piezoresponse force microscopy (BE-PFM) technique to explore the first and second harmonics of the piezoelectric response in prototypical relaxor-ferroelectric 0.72Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)O3-0.28PbTiO3 (PMN-0.28PT) single crystals. Third order polynomial fitting of the second harmonic reveals considerable correlation between the cubic coefficient map and the first harmonic piezoresponse amplitude. These results are interpreted under a modified Rayleigh framework, as evidence for domain wall contributions to enhanced electromechanical response. These studies highlight the contribution of domain wall motion in the electromechanical response of relaxor ferroelectrics, and further show the utility of harmonic BE-PFM measurements in spatially mapping the mesoscopic variability inherent in disordered systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number222901
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number22
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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