Self-poling of BiFeO3 thick films
Bismuth ferrite (BiFeO3) is difficult to pole because of the combination of its high coercive field and high electrical conductivity. This problem is particularly pronounced in thick films. The poling, however, must be performed to achieve a large macroscopic piezoelectric response. This study presents evidence of a prominent and reproducible self-poling effect in few-tens-of-μmthick BiFeO3 films. Direct and converse piezoelectric measurements confirmed that the assintered BiFeO3 thick films yield d33 values of up to 20 pC/N. It was observed that a significant self-poling effect only appears in cases when the films are heated and cooled through the ferroelectric-paraelectric phase transition (Curie temperature TC 820 oC). These self-poled films exhibit a microstructure with randomly oriented columnar grains. The presence of a compressive strain gradient across the film thickness cooled from above the TC was experimentally confirmed and is suggested to be responsible for the self-poling effect. Finally, the macroscopic d33 response of the self-poled BiFeO3 film was characterized as a function of the driving-field frequency and amplitude.