Non-volatile domain nucleation and growth in multiferroic BiFeO3 films.Nanotechnology 2011; 22(25):254030N
We have presented a systematical study of the domain nucleation and growth behaviors in multiferroic BiFeO(3) (BFO) films. Both the ferroelectric and the ferroelastic switching dynamics were investigated. Several environmental parameters, including the polarization orientations, the monodomain-like matrix, and the ordered domain walls as local boundaries, were well controlled by thin-film strain engineering through changing the vicinal angles of the substrates. The tip-based domain dynamics was studied by subsequent piezoresponse force microscope (PFM) imaging of the domain evolution under external voltage pulses. For the nanodomains written in the monodomain-like environment, the domain wall performed the thermal activated motion. The as-grown 71° domain walls can act as pinning centers for the ferroelectric domain growth driven by low fields; moreover, ferroelastic nucleation near a 71° domain wall will cause the deformation of the domain wall. The ferroelastic domain growth possessed relatively small activation fields, and therefore usually performed non-activated motion. This study revealed the effects of local environments on the dynamics forming nanoscale domains, and opened a pathway for applications in novel non-volatile functional devices.