Stretching ferroelectrics from within

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Science  04 Sep 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6252, pp. 1067-1068
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6252.1067-g

Squeezing or stretching ferroelectric materials can strongly affect their properties. Although it is relatively easy to apply isotropic compressive stress, tensile stress is trickier. Wang et al. have found a way to do that in nanowires made out of the ferroelectric PbTiO3. The wires initially had a tetragonal structure, but when they were exposed to air and high temperatures, they transformed into the so-called perovskite phase, which is much denser. The densification progressed from the surface of the wires inward, inflicting tensile stress and causing voids to form inside the wires. For a narrow range of wire diameters, this resulted in a deformation along the polarization axis and the enhancement of ferroelectric properties.

Nat. Mat. 10.1038/nmat4365 (2015).

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