Evidence of sharp and diffuse domain walls in BiFeO 3 by means of unit-cell-wise strain and polarization maps obtained with high resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Physical Review Letters, Volume 109, Number 4 (2012)


Domain walls (DWs) substantially influence a large number of applications involving ferroelectric materials due to their limited mobility when shifted during polarization switching. The discovery of greatly enhanced conduction at BiFeO 3 DWs has highlighted yet another role of DWs as a local material state with unique properties. However, the lack of precise information on the local atomic structure is still hampering microscopical understanding of DW properties. Here, we examine the atomic structure of BiFeO 3 109° DWs with pm precision by a combination of high-angle annular dark-field scanning transmission electron microscopy and a dedicated structural analysis. By measuring simultaneously local polarization and strain, we provide direct experimental proof for the straight DW structure predicted by ab initio calculations as well as the recently proposed theory of diffuse DWs, thus resolving a long-standing discrepancy between experimentally measured and theoretically predicted DW mobilities. © 2012 American Physical Society.


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