Surface effect on domain wall width in ferroelectrics

Anna N. Morozovska,
Sergei V. Kalinin,
Yulan Li,
Jie Shen,
Maya D. Glinchuk,
Long-Qing Chen,
Venkatraman Gopalan

I. M. Frantsevich Institute for Problems of Materials Science of the NAS of Ukraine, Omeliana Pritsaka str.,3, Kyiv, 03142, Ukraine
Journal of Applied Physics - Melville, USA: American Institute of Physics, 2009, #106


We study the effect of the depolarization field on a domain wall structure near the surface of a ferroelectric. Since in real situation bound and screening charges form an electric double layer, the breaking of this layer by the domain wall induces stray depolarization field, which in turn changes the domain wall structure. Power law decay of the stray field results in the power law of polarization saturation near the surface, as compared to exponential saturation in the bulk. Obtained results predict that the surface broadening of ferroelectric domain walls appeared near Curie temperature as well as describe domain wall depth profile in weak ferroelectrics. We qualitatively describe extra-broad domain walls near LiNbO3 and LiTaO3 surfaces observed experimentally at room temperature, which probably originate at high temperatures but did not fully relax their width with temperature decrease allowing for lattice pinning and defect centers. Thus results have broad implication for fundamental issues such as maximal information storage density in ferroelectric data storage, domain wall pinning mechanisms at surfaces and interfaces, and nucleation dynamics.