Polarization charge as a reconfigurable quasi-dopant in ferroelectric thin films
Impurity elements used as dopants are essential to semiconductor technology for controlling the concentration of charge carriers. Their location in the semiconductor crystal is determined during the fabrication process and remains fixed. However, another possibility exists(1-3) whereby the concentration of charge carriers is modified using polarization charge as a quasi-dopant, which implies the possibility to write, displace, erase and re-create channels having a metallic- type conductivity inside a wide-bandgap semiconductor matrix. Polarization-charge doping is achieved in ferroelectrics by the creation of charged domain walls(2,4,5). The intentional creation of stable charged domain walls has so far only been reported in BaTiO3 single crystals(6), with a process that involves cooling the material through its phase transition under a strong electric bias, but this is not a viable technology when real-time reconfigurability is sought in working devices. Here, we demonstrate a technique allowing the creation and nanoscale manipulation of charged domain walls and their action as a real-time doping activator in ferroelectric thin films. Stable individual and multiple conductive channels with various lengths from 3 mu m to 100 nm were created, erased and recreated in another location, and their high metallic-type conductivity was verified. This takes the idea of hardware reconfigurable electronics(7) one step forward.