Infoscience

Journal article

Critical scattering and incommensurate phase transition in antiferroelectric PbZrO3 under pressure

Antiferroelectric lead zirconate is the key ingredient in modern ferroelectric and piezoelectric functional solid solutions. By itself it offers opportunities in new-type non-volatile memory and energy storage applications. A highly useful and scientifically puzzling feature of this material is the competition between the ferro- and antiferroelectric phases due to their energetic proximity, which leads to a challenge in understanding of the critical phenomena driving the formation of the antiferroelectric structure. We show that application of hydrostatic pressure drastically changes the character of critical lattice dynamics and enables the soft-mode-driven incommensurate phase transition sequence in lead zirconate. In addition to the long known cubic and antiferroelectric phases we identify the new non-modulated phase serving as a bridge between the cubic and the incommensurate phases. The pressure effect on ferroelectric and incommensurate critical dynamics shows that lead zirconate is not a single-instability-driven system.

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