Watching domains grow: In-situ studies of polarization switching by combined scanning probe and scanning transmission electron microscopy

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of Applied Physics, Volume 110, Number 5 (2011)


Ferroelectric domain nucleation and growth in multiferroic BiFeO 3 films is observed directly by applying a local electric field with a conductive tip inside a scanning transmission electron microscope. The nucleation and growth of a ferroelastic domain and its interaction with pre-existing 71° domain walls are observed and compared with the results of phase-field modeling. In particular, a preferential nucleation site and direction-dependent pinning of domain walls are observed due to slow kinetics of metastable switching in the sample without a bottom electrode. These in situ spatially resolved observations of a first-order bias-induced phase transition reveal the mesoscopic mechanisms underpinning functionality of a wide range of multiferroic materials. © 2011 American Institute of Physics.


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