Local conductance: A means to extract polarization and depolarizing fields near domain walls in ferroelectrics

Douglas, A. M.; Kumar, A.; Whatmore, R. W.; Gregg, J. M.
October 2015
Applied Physics Letters;10/26/2015, Vol. 107 Issue 17, p1
Academic Journal
Conducting atomic force microscopy images of bulk semiconducting BaTiO3 surfaces show clear stripe domain contrast. High local conductance correlates with strong out-of-plane polarization (mapped independently using piezoresponse force microscopy), and current-voltage characteristics are consistent with dipole-induced alterations in Schottky barriers at the metallic tip-ferroelectric interface. Indeed, analyzing current-voltage data in terms of established Schottky barrier models allows relative variations in the surface polarization, and hence the local domain structure, to be determined. Fitting also reveals the signature of surface-related depolarizing fields concentrated near domain walls. Domain information obtained from mapping local conductance appears to be more surface-sensitive than that from piezoresponse force microscopy. In the right materials systems, local current mapping could therefore represent a useful complementary technique for evaluating polarization and local electric fields with nanoscale resolution.


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