American Chemical Society
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Manipulating Ferroelectrics through Changes in Surface and Interface Properties

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-10-23, 00:00 authored by Nina Balke, Ramamoorthy Ramesh, Pu Yu
Ferroelectric materials are used in many applications of modern technologies including information storage, transducers, sensors, tunable capacitors, and other novel device concepts. In many of these applications, the ferroelectric properties, such as switching voltages, piezoelectric constants, or stability of nanodomains, are crucial. For any application, even for material characterization, the material itself needs to be interfaced with electrodes. On the basis of the structural, chemical, and electronic properties of the interfaces, the measured material properties can be determined by the interface. This is also true for surfaces. However, the importance of interfaces and surfaces and their effect on experiments are often neglected, which results in many dramatically different experimental results for nominally identical samples. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the role of the interface and surface properties on internal bias fields and the domain switching process. Here, the nanoscale ferroelectric switching process and the stability of nanodomains for Pb­(Zr,Ti)­O3 thin films are investigated by using scanning probe microscopy. Interface and surface properties are modulated through the selection/redesign of electrode materials as well as tuning the surface-near oxygen vacancies, which both can result in changes of the electric fields acting across the sample, and consequently this controls the measured ferroelectric and domain retention properties. By understanding the role of surfaces and interfaces, ferroelectric properties can be tuned to eliminate the problem of asymmetric domain stability by combining the effects of different electrode materials. This study forms an important step toward integrating ferroelectric materials in electronic devices.