Nanoscale ferroelectric switching: A method to inject and study non-equilibrium domain walls


This chapter focuses on the electric field-induced formation of a single nanoscale polarization domain, emphasizing that nucleation, growth, and annihilation of such a domain enables injection of non-equilibrium domain walls. The focus on nanoscale domains is motivated in large part by advances in scanning probe microscopy (SPM), where the ever-increasing drive to improve spatial resolution was met by a natural reduction of the size of one of the electrodes in a ferroelectric capacitor down to nanoscale dimensions. In this case, the process of ferroelectric switching becomes dominated by the nucleation of a single domain of the opposite polarization. Once allowed to equilibrate, the end-result of the single-domain switching is injection of a new domain wall(s) into the original ferroelectric volume. Likewise, reversing the polarization under the probe will in general eliminate the domain wall(s). The nanoscale ferroelectric switching becomes, therefore, an efficient approach to inject and erase DWs on-demand. However, its primary value may be in facilitation of detailed understanding of the DW injection mechanisms as well as investigation of the range of possible DW configurations, that can be injected up to the highest fields achievable in a given material.


A.V. Ievlev, A. Tselev, R. Vasudevan, S.V. Kalinin, A. Morozovska, and P. Maksymovych

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