Ferroelectric Self-Poling in GeTe Films and Crystals

Ferroelectric materials are used in actuators or sensors because of their non-volatile macroscopic electric polarization. GeTe is the simplest known diatomic ferroelectric endowed with exceedingly complex physics related to its crystalline, amorphous, thermoelectric, and—fairly recently discovered—topological properties, making the material potentially interesting for spintronics applications. Typically, ferroelectric materials possess random oriented domains that need poling to achieve macroscopic polarization. By using X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy complemented with anomalous diffraction and piezo-response force microscopy, we investigated the bulk ferroelectric structure of GeTe crystals and thin films. Both feature multi-domain structures in the form of oblique domains for films and domain colonies inside crystals. Despite these multi-domain structures which are expected to randomize the polarization direction, our experimental results show that at room temperature there is a preferential ferroelectric order remarkably consistent with theoretical predictions from ideal GeTe crystals. This robust self-poled state has high piezoelectricity and additional poling reveals persistent memory effects.

Published in:
Crystals, 9, 7, 335
Jun 28 2019
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 Record created 2019-07-22, last modified 2019-07-24

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