Infoscience

Thesis

Phase transitions, anisotropy and domain engineering: the piezoelectric properties of relaxor-ferroelectric single crystals

Relaxor-ferroelectric single crystals PZN-xPT [(1-x)Pb(Zn1/3Nb2/3)O3-xPbTiO3] and PMN-xPT [(1-x)Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)O3-xPbTiO3] continue to attract much interest due to their anomalously large piezoelectric properties (d33 > 2000 pm/V; k33 > 90%) when poled ("domain-engineered") along a non-polar [001]C direction. In this thesis, the bulk dielectric, pyroelectric, ferroelectric and piezoelectric properties of single crystal PMN-xPT and PZN-xPT with morphotropic phase boundary (MPB) compositions are investigated. The concept of "pseudo-rhombohedral" ("R") and "pseudoorthorhombic" ("O") phases is introduced to encompass the rhombohedral, orthorhombic, and monoclinic (MA, MB and MC) ferroelectric phases occurring in poled crystals; all bulk measurements are rationalized in this way. Poling in different orientations affects the thermal stabilities of the "R", "O" and tetragonal (T) phases, likely due to the presence of residual bias fields. Phase diagrams are constructed for [001]C-poled crystals based on bulk electrical measurements, which agree well with those derived elsewhere from diffraction experiments. Large pyroelectric coefficients (< 1000 µCm-2K-1) are evidenced in [111]C-poled PMN-28PT; these might be exploitable in heat sensing and thermal imaging applications. A "R" phase is induced metastably in otherwise pseudo-orthorhombic PZN-8PT by poling along the [111]C direction at sub-zero temperatures. The related electric field induced ("O" - "R") phase transition is evidenced in strain-field measurements and, in situ, by polarized light microscopy. Hysteresis, and discontinuities in polarization and strain, are due to nucleation and growth of the induced phase; this first-order phase transition corresponds to a discontinuous "jump" of the polar vector within the MB plane. Further electric-field induced phase transitions are evidenced in unipolar strain-field loops for [001]C-poled PZN-xPT and PMN-xPT, with various MPB compositions, at temperatures between 25°C and 100°C. In PZN-6.5PT, PMN-30PT and PMN-30.5PT, the polarization rotation path "R" - "O" - T is evidenced by two first-order "jumps" in strains, one between the MA and MC monoclinic planes, and one within the MC plane to the tetragonal phase. Electric field-temperature (E-T) phase diagrams are constructed from the experimental data; trends for the electrical stabilities of the "R", "O" and T phases are shown. The (direct) piezoelectric response of [001]C-poled PZN-4.5PT, PZN-6.5PT, PZN-8PT and PMN-31PT is investigated under compressive stresses both along and perpendicular to the poling direction (longitudinal d33 and transverse d31 modes, respectively). Dynamic measurements are made in a Berlincourt-type press, over a range of stresses (< 20 MPa) and temperatures (25 to 200°C). In the longitudinal mode, Rayleigh-law hysteresis and nonlinearity indicates a significant extrinsic contribution from the irreversible (pinned) motion of interfaces, and likely ferroelastic domain walls; however, domain switching is not generally expected in domain engineered, pseudo-rhombohedral crystals. It is postulated that domain wall motion is driven by a local stress-induced phase transition, clearly evidenced in quasi-static, charge-stress loops and in situ X-ray diffraction at larger stresses (< 100 MPa). The reversible contribution to the response is always found to be larger than the irreversible (extrinsic) contribution in the "R" and "O" phases, the latter accounting for around 20% of d33 in PZN-8PT, at room temperature, and 5% in PZN-4.5PT. Both contributions are shown to increase upon heating towards the tetragonal phase; the increase in extrinsic contribution is likely due to increased domain wall mobility as the ferroelectric-ferroelectric phase transition temperature is approached. In contrast, the transverse response of PMN-31PT and PZN-4.5PT is anhysteretic ("non-lossy") and linear at low stresses (< 10 MPa). This might be exploitable in sensing applications. The difference between the behaviors is likely related to differing directions of polarization rotation. In the transverse mode, rotation is towards the [001]C poling direction and the domain engineered structure is retained during the stress-induced phase transition. Lastly, published monodomain properties are used to calculate the piezoelectric (d33* and d31* ) coefficients of domain-engineered 3m PMN-33PT and mm2 PZN-9PT; both positive and negative transverse coefficients can be application tailored by domain-engineering. According to such calculations, intrinsic crystal anisotropy accounts for at least 50% of the "giant" piezoelectric response of polydomain, [001]C-poled, PMN-33PT and PZN-9PT. Both compositions show inherently strong piezoelectric anisotropy (d15/d33 ≫ 1) in accordance with an "easy" polarization rotation. This is related to a high dielectric anisotropy (ε11/ε33) and the degeneracy of the "R", "O" and T phases near the MPB. Similar effects are observed in all ferroelectric perovskites, although the effect is uncommonly large in PMN-xPT and PZN-xPT: it is noted that all monodomain compliances, piezoelectric coefficients and permittivities are around an order of magnitude larger in PMN-xPT and PZN-xPT compared to their simpler perovskite relatives. This is likely a result of their background "relaxor" nature. Finally, it is suggested that the presence of zero-field monoclinic phases in PMN-xPT and PZN-xPT is related to their inherently large piezoelectric response in the presence of residual stresses and bias fields, not the other way round as is commonly accepted.

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