Nanoscale ferroelectricity in crystalline γ-glycine

Alejandro Heredia, Vincent Meunier, Igor K. Bdikin, José Gracio, Nina Balke, Stephen Jesse, Alexander Tselev, Pratul K. Agarwal, Bobby G. Sumpter, Sergei V. Kalinin, Andrei L. Kholkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Ferroelectrics are multifunctional materials that reversibly change their polarization under an electric field. Recently, the search for new ferroelectrics has focused on organic and bio-organic materials, where polarization switching is used to record/retrieve information in the form of ferroelectric domains. This progress has opened a new avenue for data storage, molecular recognition, and new self-assembly routes. Crystalline glycine is the simplest amino acid and is widely used by living organisms to build proteins. Here, it is reported for the first time that γ-glycine, which has been known to be piezoelectric since 1954, is also a ferroelectric, as evidenced by local electromechanical measurements and by the existence of as-grown and switchable ferroelectric domains in microcrystals grown from the solution. The experimental results are rationalized by molecular simulations that establish that the polarization vector in γ-glycine can be switched on the nanoscale level, opening a pathway to novel classes of bioelectronic logic and memory devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2996-3003
Number of pages8
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 24 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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