Formation of charged ferroelectric domain walls with controlled periodicity
Charged domain walls in proper ferroelectrics were shown recently to possess metallic-like conductivity. Unlike conventional heterointerfaces, these walls can be displaced inside a dielectric by an electric field, which is of interest for future electronic circuitry. In addition, theory predicts that charged domain walls may influence the electromechanical response of ferroelectrics, with strong enhancement upon increased charged domain wall density. The existence of charged domain walls in proper ferroelectrics is disfavoured by their high formation energy and methods of their preparation in predefined patterns are unknown. Here we develop the theoretical background for the formation of charged domain walls in proper ferroelectrics using energy considerations and outline favourable conditions for their engineering. We experimentally demonstrate, in BaTiO3 single crystals the controlled build-up of high density charged domain wall patterns, down to a spacing of 7 mu m with a predominant mixed electronic and ionic screening scenario, hinting to a possible exploitation of charged domain walls in agile electronics and sensing devices.