Piezoresponse amplitude and phase quantified for electromechanical characterization


Piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM) is a powerful characterization technique to readily image and manipulate the ferroelectric domains. PFM gives an insight into the strength of local piezoelectric coupling and polarization direction through PFM amplitude and phase, respectively. Converting measured arbitrary units into units of effective piezoelectric constant remains a challenge, and insufficient methods are often used. While most quantification efforts have been spent on quantifying the PFM amplitude signal, little attention has been given to the PFM phase, which is often arbitrarily adjusted to fit expectations. This is problematic when investigating materials with unknown or negative sign of the probed effective electrostrictive coefficient or strong frequency dispersion of electromechanical responses, because assumptions about the PFM phase cannot be reliably made. The PFM phase can, however, provide important information on the polarization orientation and the sign of the effective electrostrictive coefficient probed by PFM. Most notably, the orientation of the PFM hysteresis loop is determined by the PFM phase. Moreover, when presenting PFM data as a combined signal, the resulting response can be artificially lowered or asymmetric if the phase data have not been correctly processed. Here, we explain the PFM amplitude quantification process and demonstrate a path to identify the phase offset required to extract correct meaning from the PFM phase data. We explore different sources of phase offsets including the experimental setup, instrumental contributions, and data analysis. We discuss the physical working principles of PFM and develop a strategy to extract physical meaning from the PFM amplitude and phase.



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Neumayer, SM; Saremi, S; Martin, LW; Collins, L; Tselev, A; Jesse, S; Kalinin, SV; Balke, N

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The experiments in this work were performed and supported at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences in Oak Ridge National Lab, which is a DOE Office of Science user facility (L.C., S.J., S.V.K., and N.B.). The measurements on the PZT sample were supported by the Division of Materials Science and Engineering, Basic Energy Sciences, U.S. Department of Energy (S.M.N.). S.S. acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant No. DMR-1708615 for PZT synthesis. L.W.M. acknowledges support from the Army Research Office under Grant No. W911NF-14-1-0104 for PZT synthesis. In part (A.T.), this work was developed within the scope of the project CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials, Nos. UIDB/50011/2020 and UIDP/50011/2020, financed by national funds through the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology/MCTES.

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