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A Strain-Driven Morphotropic Phase Boundary in BiFeO3

Science  13 Nov 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5955, pp. 977-980
DOI: 10.1126/science.1177046

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Abstract

Piezoelectric materials, which convert mechanical to electrical energy and vice versa, are typically characterized by the intimate coexistence of two phases across a morphotropic phase boundary. Electrically switching one to the other yields large electromechanical coupling coefficients. Driven by global environmental concerns, there is currently a strong push to discover practical lead-free piezoelectrics for device engineering. Using a combination of epitaxial growth techniques in conjunction with theoretical approaches, we show the formation of a morphotropic phase boundary through epitaxial constraint in lead-free piezoelectric bismuth ferrite (BiFeO3) films. Electric field–dependent studies show that a tetragonal-like phase can be reversibly converted into a rhombohedral-like phase, accompanied by measurable displacements of the surface, making this new lead-free system of interest for probe-based data storage and actuator applications.

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