Domain Structures in Ferroelectrics

Many material properties are determined by the microstructures. One of the hottest topics in materials research is to define the microstructure-property relation. It has been experimentally verified that the domain reorientation process contributes more than 70% of the total observed electrical and mechanical response in ferroelectric systems.

Domain patterns are the consequence of the multi-variants in the low temperature phase. They are oriented along certain crystallographic orientations. The domain orientation can be changed by external elastic or electric fields, causing shape deformation and large susceptibility. Such contribution is the so called extrinsic contributions. There are now powerful experimental tools to probe the atomistic structure of the domain walls. One of the methods is the Holographic Electron Microscopy, which can measure the continuous polarization profile across a domain wall with a resolution of 1.4 Å.

Through a discrete model one can simulate the domain pattern formation kinetics. The simulated domain structures match quite well with that of the experimental results of transmission electron microscopy. The simulation results also reveal the temporal process of the domain formation after quenching a ferroelectric system much below the phase transition temperature.

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