Topological Defects in Hexagonal Manganites: Inner Structure and Emergent Electrostatics
journal contributionposted on 05.09.2017, 00:00 by Megan E. Holtz, Konstantin Shapovalov, Julia A. Mundy, Celesta S. Chang, Zewu Yan, Edith Bourret, David A. Muller, Dennis Meier, Andrés Cano
Diverse topological defects arise in hexagonal manganites, such as ferroelectric vortices, as well as neutral and charged domain walls. The topological defects are intriguing because their low symmetry enables unusual couplings between structural, charge, and spin degrees of freedom, holding great potential for novel types of functional 2D and 1D systems. Despite the considerable advances in analyzing the different topological defects in hexagonal manganites, the understanding of their key intrinsic properties is still rather limited and disconnected. In particular, a rapidly increasing number of structural variants is reported without clarifying their relation, leading to a zoo of seemingly unrelated topological textures. Here, we combine picometer-precise scanning-transmission-electron microscopy with Landau theory modeling to clarify the inner structure of topological defects in Er1–xZrxMnO3. By performing a comprehensive parametrization of the inner atomic defect structure, we demonstrate that one primary length scale drives the morphology of both vortices and domain walls. Our findings lead to a unifying general picture of this type of structural topological defects. We further derive novel fundamental and universal properties, such as unusual bound-charge distributions and electrostatics at the ferroelectric vortex cores with emergent U(1) symmetry.