Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Promising Ferroelectric Materials Suffer From Unexpected Electric Polarizations: Brookhaven Lab scientists find surprising locked charge polarizations that impede performance in next-gen materials that could otherwise revolutionize data-driven devices

Electrostatic potential landscapes reconstructed from electron holography data with 15 volts of positive or negative current applied to the substrate (Nb-STO). The much steeper potential drop from the +15 V signifies a higher electric field, whereas the -15 V yielded a much flatter curve—indicating the charge asymmetry within the material.
Electrostatic potential landscapes reconstructed from electron holography data with 15 volts of positive or negative current applied to the substrate (Nb-STO). The much steeper potential drop from the +15 V signifies a higher electric field, whereas the -15 V yielded a much flatter curve—indicating the charge asymmetry within the material.

Abstract:
Electronic devices with unprecedented efficiency and data storage may someday run on ferroelectrics—remarkable materials that use built-in electric polarizations to read and write digital information, outperforming the magnets inside most popular data-driven technology. But ferroelectrics must first overcome a few key stumbling blocks, including a curious habit of "forgetting" stored data.

Promising Ferroelectric Materials Suffer From Unexpected Electric Polarizations: Brookhaven Lab scientists find surprising locked charge polarizations that impede performance in next-gen materials that could otherwise revolutionize data-driven devices

Upton, NY | Posted on August 18th, 2014

Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have discovered nanoscale asymmetries and charge preferences hidden within ferroelectrics that may explain their operational limits.

"The positive or negative polarizations in these ferroelectric materials should be incredibly easy to switch, but the reality is much stranger," said Brookhaven Lab physicist Myung-Geun Han, lead author on the new study. "To our surprise, opposing electronic configurations only allowed for polarization in one direction—a non-starter for reading and writing data."

The researchers used a suite of state-of-the-art techniques—including real-time electrical biasing, electron holography, and electron-beam-induced current measurements—to reveal never-before-seen electric field distributions in ferroelectric thin films, which were custom-grown at Yale University. The results, published in Nature Communications, open new pathways for ferroelectric technology.

Physics of Flipping

Most electronic devices rely on ferromagnetism to read and write data. Each so-called ferromagnetic domain contains a north or south magnetic polarity, which translates into the flipping 1 or 0 of the binary code underlying all digital information. But ferromagnetic operations not only require large electric current, but the magnets can flip each other like dominoes when packed together too tightly—effectively erasing any data.

Ferroelectrics, however, use positive or negative electric charge to render digital code. Crucially, they can be packed together with domains spanning just a few atoms and require only a tiny voltage kick to flip the charge, storing much more information with much greater efficiency.

"But ferroelectric commercialization is held up by material fatigue, sudden polarization reversal, and intrinsic charge preferences," said Brookhaven Lab physicist and study coauthor Yimei Zhu. "We suspected that the origin of these issues was in the atomic interactions along the material's interface—where the ferroelectric thin film sits on a substrate."

Interface Exploration

The scientists examined ferroelectric films of lead, zirconium, and titanium oxide grown on conductive substrates of strontium, and titanium oxide with a small amount of niobium—chosen because it exhibits large polarization values with well-defined directions, either up or down. The challenge was mapping the internal electric fields in materials thousands of times thinner than a human hair under actual operating conditions.

Brookhaven scientists hunted down the suspected interface quirks using electron holography. In this technique, a transmission electron microscope (TEM) fired 200,000-volt electron wave packets through the sample with billionth-of-a-meter precision. Negative and positive electric fields inside the ferroelectric film then attracted or repelled the electron wave and slightly changed its direction. Tracking the way the beam bent throughout the ferroelectric film revealed its hidden charges.

"Rather than an evenly distributed electric field, the bending electron waves revealed non-uniform and unidirectional electric fields that induced unstable, head-to-head domain configurations," Han said. "For the first time, we could see these unusual and jagged polarizations mapped out in real space and real time."

These opposing polarizations—like rival football teams squaring off aggressively at the line of scrimmage—surprised scientists and challenged assumptions about the ferroelectric phenomenon.

"These results were totally unexpected based on the present understanding of ferroelectrics," Han said.

The asymmetries were further confirmed by measurements of electron-beam-induced current. When a focused electron beam struck the ferroelectric sample, electric fields within the film-substrate interface revealed themselves by generating additional current. Other techniques, including piezoresponse force microscopy—in which a sub-nanometer tip induces a reaction by pressing against the ferroelectric—also confirmed the strange domains.

"Each technique demonstrated this intrinsic polarization preference, likely the origin of the back-switching and poor coding performance in these ferroelectrics," Han said. "But these domain structures should require a lot of energy and thus be very unstable. The interface effect alone cannot explain their existence."
Missing Oxygen

The scientists used another ultra-precise technique to probe the material's interface: electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS). By measuring the energy deposited by an electron beam in specific locations—a kind of electronic fingerprint—the scientists determined the material's chemical composition.

"We suspect that more oxygen could be missing near the surface of the thin films, creating electron pockets that may neutralize positive charges at the domain walls," Han said. "This oxygen deficiency naturally forms in the material, and it could explain the stabilization of head-to-head domains."

This electron-swapping oxygen deficiency—and its negative effects on reliably storing data—might be corrected by additional engineering, Han said. For example, incorporating a "sacrificial layer" between the ferroelectric and the substrate could help block the interface interactions. In fact, the study may inspire new ferroelectrics that either exploit or overcome this unexpected charge phenomenon.

Other authors include Lijun Wu and Marvin A. Schofield of Brookhaven Lab; Matthew S. J. Marshall, Jason Hoffman, Frederick J. Walker, and Charles H. Ahn of the Yale University Department of Applied Physics and Center for Research on Interfaces Structures and Phenomena; Toshihiro Aoki of JEOL USA Inc.; and Ray Twesten of Gatan Inc.

The samples used for transmission electron microscopy (TEM) were prepared by Kim Kisslinger at Brookhaven Lab's Center for Functional Nanomaterials, a U.S. Department of Energy user facility.

The research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

####

About Brookhaven National Laboratory
One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE's Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by the Research Foundation for the State University of New York on behalf of Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit applied science and technology organization.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Justin Eure

631-344-2347

Copyright © Brookhaven National Laboratory

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Chengdu Partner to Expand FD-SOI Ecosystem in China: More than $100M investment to establish a center of excellence for FDXTM FD-SOI design May 23rd, 2017

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Leti Will Demo World’s-first WVGA 10-µm Pitch GaN Microdisplays for Augmented Reality Video at Display Week in Los Angles: Invited Paper also Will Present Leti’s Success with New Augmented Reality Technology That Reduces Pixel Pitch to Less than 5 Microns May 22nd, 2017

Graphene-nanotube hybrid boosts lithium metal batteries: Rice University prototypes store 3 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries May 19th, 2017

Laboratories

NREL’s Advanced Atomic Layer Deposition Enables Lithium-Ion Battery Technology: May 10th, 2017

Discovery of new transparent thin film material could improve electronics and solar cells: Conductivity is highest-ever for thin film oxide semiconductor material May 6th, 2017

Sandia develops math techniques to improve computational efficiency in quantum chemistry May 5th, 2017

Scientists Set Record Resolution for Drawing at the One-Nanometer Length Scale: An electron microscope-based lithography system for patterning materials at sizes as small as a single nanometer could be used to create and study materials with new properties May 1st, 2017

Video captures bubble-blowing battery in action: Researchers propose how bubbles form, could lead to smaller lithium-air batteries April 26th, 2017

Physics

Ultracold atom waves may shed light on rogue ocean killers: Rice quantum experiments probe underlying physics of rogue ocean waves April 27th, 2017

Geoffrey Beach: Drawn to explore magnetism: Materials researcher is working on the magnetic memory of the future April 25th, 2017

NIST physicists show ion pairs perform enhanced 'spooky action' March 30th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Graphene-nanotube hybrid boosts lithium metal batteries: Rice University prototypes store 3 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries May 19th, 2017

Stanford scientists use nanotechnology to boost the performance of key industrial catalyst May 18th, 2017

Oddball enzyme provides easy path to synthetic biomaterials May 17th, 2017

Chip Technology

GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Chengdu Partner to Expand FD-SOI Ecosystem in China: More than $100M investment to establish a center of excellence for FDXTM FD-SOI design May 23rd, 2017

Plasmon-powered upconversion nanocrystals for enhanced bioimaging and polarized emission: Plasmonic gold nanorods brighten lanthanide-doped upconversion superdots for improved multiphoton bioimaging contrast and enable polarization-selective nonlinear emissions for novel nanoscal May 19th, 2017

Oddball enzyme provides easy path to synthetic biomaterials May 17th, 2017

Racyics Launches ‘makeChip’ Design Service Platform for GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ 22FDX® Technology: Racyics will provide IP and design services as a part of the foundry’s FDXcelerator™ Partner Program May 11th, 2017

Memory Technology

Geoffrey Beach: Drawn to explore magnetism: Materials researcher is working on the magnetic memory of the future April 25th, 2017

New ultrafast flexible and transparent memory devices could herald new era of electronics April 1st, 2017

Information storage with a nanoscale twist: Discovery of a novel rotational force inside magnetic vortices makes it easier to design ultrahigh capacity disk drives March 28th, 2017

Smart multi-layered magnetic material acts as an electric switch: New study reveals characteristic of islands of magnetic metals between vacuum gaps, displaying tunnelling electric current March 1st, 2017

Discoveries

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Sensors detect disease markers in breath May 19th, 2017

Graphene-nanotube hybrid boosts lithium metal batteries: Rice University prototypes store 3 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries May 19th, 2017

Plasmon-powered upconversion nanocrystals for enhanced bioimaging and polarized emission: Plasmonic gold nanorods brighten lanthanide-doped upconversion superdots for improved multiphoton bioimaging contrast and enable polarization-selective nonlinear emissions for novel nanoscal May 19th, 2017

Materials/Metamaterials

Stanford scientists use nanotechnology to boost the performance of key industrial catalyst May 18th, 2017

Self-healing tech charges up performance for silicon-containing battery anodes May 15th, 2017

Discovery of new transparent thin film material could improve electronics and solar cells: Conductivity is highest-ever for thin film oxide semiconductor material May 6th, 2017

CCNY physicists demonstrate photonic hypercrystals for control of light-matter interaction May 5th, 2017

Announcements

GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Chengdu Partner to Expand FD-SOI Ecosystem in China: More than $100M investment to establish a center of excellence for FDXTM FD-SOI design May 23rd, 2017

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Leti Will Demo World’s-first WVGA 10-µm Pitch GaN Microdisplays for Augmented Reality Video at Display Week in Los Angles: Invited Paper also Will Present Leti’s Success with New Augmented Reality Technology That Reduces Pixel Pitch to Less than 5 Microns May 22nd, 2017

Graphene-nanotube hybrid boosts lithium metal batteries: Rice University prototypes store 3 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries May 19th, 2017

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Sensors detect disease markers in breath May 19th, 2017

Graphene-nanotube hybrid boosts lithium metal batteries: Rice University prototypes store 3 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries May 19th, 2017

Plasmon-powered upconversion nanocrystals for enhanced bioimaging and polarized emission: Plasmonic gold nanorods brighten lanthanide-doped upconversion superdots for improved multiphoton bioimaging contrast and enable polarization-selective nonlinear emissions for novel nanoscal May 19th, 2017

Research partnerships

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Sensors detect disease markers in breath May 19th, 2017

Stanford scientists use nanotechnology to boost the performance of key industrial catalyst May 18th, 2017

Gas gives laser-induced graphene super properties: Rice University study shows inexpensive material can be superhydrophilic or superhydrophobic May 15th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project