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Journal article

Piezoelectric softening by Nb substitution in (Ba,Pb)ZrO

Donor doping is commonly applied for softening of the piezoelectric and dielectric properties and facilitation of polarization switching in the ubiquitous Pb(Zr,Ti)O-3 [PZT] ceramics. The origin of the donor-dopant effects is not entirely clear. (Pb,Ba)ZrO3 [PBZ] is a related ferroelectric material, its perovskite A-site being partially occupied by the larger Ba+2 cation, less prone to evaporation than Pb+2, and the B-site is occupied entirely by the valency-stable Zr+4. Here we report on our studies of Nb+5 doping effects in (Pb,Ba)ZrO3. Similarly, to past observations on La+3 and Nb+5 doped PZT, we find a strong reduction in relative density of PBZ when the doping is <0.5 atomic %. This is accompanied by lattice parameter reduction, enhanced PbO loss, smaller grain size and deterioration of dielectric, piezoelectric and polarization switching properties, the latter being opposite of expected softening effect. All those observations can be interpreted in terms of the Nb entering A-site at small concentrations. This is supported by ab-inito calculations and analysis of the possible defect reaction equations. The structure and microstructure of PBZ with Nb>0.2% are consistent with Nb+5 entering the B-site and softening effects are observed. The study supports the scenario of hardening due to domain walls pinning by V-Pb-V-O divacancies and softening upon decrease in their concentration.

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