Domain structure in ultrathin ferroelectric films: Analysis with a free energy model

Y. Yacoby, Y. Girshberg, E. A. Stern, R. Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Experiments have shown that the transition temperature of 4-75-unit -cell-thick PbTi O3 films grown on an insulating SrTi O3 substrate range between 550 and 980 K. At high temperatures (below Tc), the films are in a 180° stripe domain state, polarized perpendicular to the surface, and transform at about room temperature to a single macroscopic domain. This transition is curious because the strong depolarizing field is expected to quench the spontaneous polarization. Indeed, a 10-unit -cell-thick BaTi O3 film grown on the same substrate was found to remain in the paraelectric state even at room temperature. To understand these phenomena, we present a free energy model based on the bulk perovskite ferroelectricity model that we have previously developed. The model takes into account two interacting order parameters, the average spontaneous local off-center displacements (pseudospins) and the condensed soft mode. The model shows that at high temperatures the PbTi O3 films should be in the stripe domain state and predicts in reasonable quantitative agreement with experiment the stripe period as a function of temperature and film thickness. It further predicts that at about room temperature the films would transform into a single domain state with vanishing electrical polarization but with large ionic displacements. Finally, the model explains why the properties of PbTi O3 and BaTi O3 are so different from each other.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104113
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Domain structure in ultrathin ferroelectric films: Analysis with a free energy model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this