Microwave a.c. conductivity of domain walls in ferroelectric thin films.Nat Commun 2016; 7:11630NC
Ferroelectric domain walls are of great interest as elementary building blocks for future electronic devices due to their intrinsic few-nanometre width, multifunctional properties and field-controlled topology. To realize the electronic functions, domain walls are required to be electrically conducting and addressable non-destructively. However, these properties have been elusive because conducting walls have to be electrically charged, which makes them unstable and uncommon in ferroelectric materials. Here we reveal that spontaneous and recorded domain walls in thin films of lead zirconate and bismuth ferrite exhibit large conductance at microwave frequencies despite being insulating at d.c. We explain this effect by morphological roughening of the walls and local charges induced by disorder with the overall charge neutrality. a.c. conduction is immune to large contact resistance enabling completely non-destructive walls read-out. This demonstrates a technological potential for harnessing a.c. conduction for oxide electronics and other materials with poor d.c. conduction, particularly at the nanoscale.