Phase coexistence and electric-field control of toroidal order in oxide superlattices

A. R. Damodaran, J. D. Clarkson, Z. Hong, H. Liu, A. K. Yadav, C. T. Nelson, S. L. Hsu, M. R. McCarter, K. D. Park, V. Kravtsov, A. Farhan, Y. Dong, Z. Cai, H. Zhou, P. Aguado-Puente, P. Garcia-Fernandez, J. Iniguez, J. Junquera, A. Scholl, M. B. RaschkeL. Q. Chen, D. D. Fong, R. Ramesh, L. W. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


Systems that exhibit phase competition, order parameter coexistence, and emergent order parameter topologies constitute a major part of modern condensed-matter physics. Here, by applying a range of characterization techniques, and simulations, we observe that in PbTiO"3/SrTiO"3 superlattices all of these effects can be found. By exploring superlattice period-, temperature- and field-dependent evolution of these structures, we observe several new features. First, it is possible to engineer phase coexistence mediated by a first-order phase transition between an emergent, low-temperature vortex phase with electric toroidal order and a high-temperature ferroelectric a"1/a"2 phase. At room temperature, the coexisting vortex and ferroelectric phases form a mesoscale, fibre-textured hierarchical superstructure. The vortex phase possesses an axial polarization, set by the net polarization of the surrounding ferroelectric domains, such that it possesses a multi-order-parameter state and belongs to a class of gyrotropic electrotoroidal compounds. Finally, application of electric fields to this mixed-phase system permits interconversion between the vortex and the ferroelectric phases concomitant with order-of-magnitude changes in piezoelectric and nonlinear optical responses. Our findings suggest new cross-coupled functionalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1003-1009
Number of pages7
JournalNature Materials
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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