The effect of phase assemblages, grain boundaries and domain structure on the local switching behavior of rare-earth modified bismuth ferrite ceramics


Piezoelectric properties and ferroelectric/ferroelastic domain switching behavior of polycrystalline ceramics are strongly influenced by local scale (i.e. <100 nm) phenomena, such as, the phase assemblages, domain structure, and defects. The method of ceramic synthesis strongly effects the local properties and thus plays a critical role in determining the macroscopic ferroelectric and piezoelectric performance. The link between synthesis and local scale properties of ferroelectrics is, however, rarely reported, especially for the emerging lead-free materials systems. In this work, we focus on samarium modified bismuth ferrite ceramics (Bi0.88Sm0.12FeO3, BSFO) prepared by two methods: standard solid state reaction (SSR) and mechanochemically assisted synthesis (MAS). Each ceramic possesses different properties at the local scale and we used the piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM) complemented by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to evaluate phase distribution, domain structure and polarization switching to show that an increase in the anti-polar phase assemblages within the polar matrix leads to notable changes in the local polarization switching. SSR ceramics exhibit larger internal bias fields relative to the MAS ceramics, and the grain boundaries produce a stronger effect on the local switching response. MAS ceramics were able to nucleate domains at lower electric-fields and grow them at faster rates, reaching larger final domain sizes than the SSR ceramics. Local evidence of the electric-field induced phase transition from the anti-ferroelectric Pbam to ferroelectric R3c phase was observed together with likely evidence of the existence of head-to-head/tail-to-tail charged domain walls and domain vortex core structures. By comparing the domain structure and local switching behavior of ceramics prepared by two different methods this work brings new insights the synthesis-structure-property relationship in lead-free piezoceramics. (C) 2016 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.



subject category

Materials Science; Metallurgy & Metallurgical Engineering


Alikin, DO; Turygin, AP; Walker, J; Bencan, A; Malic, B; Rojac, T; Shur, VY; Kholkin, AL

our authors


The equipment of the Ural Center for Shared Use "Modern nanotechnology" (UrFU) was used. Samples were prepared at the Jozef Stefan institutie, department of Electronic Ceramics, Slovenia. The research was made possible with the financial support of RFBR (Grants 16-32-60083-mol_a_dk), by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation (UID RFMEFI58715X0022). The Slovenian Research Agency is acknowledged for the financial support through Russian-Slovenian bilateral project BI-RU/14-15-032, program P2-0105 and project J2-5483. This work was developed within the scope of the project CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials, POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007679 (FCT Ref. UID/CTM/50011/2013), financed by national funds through the FCT/MEC and when appropriate co-financed by FEDER under the PT2020 Partnership Agreement.

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