Perovskite ferroelectrics go metal free

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Science  13 Jul 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6398, pp. 132
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat5729

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Ferroelectric materials, which have spontaneous electric polarization that can be switched with an external electric field, have applications as capacitors, sensors, and data-storage devices (1). Since the discovery of high-performance BaTiO3 and LiNbO3, ferroelectric perovskite oxides have dominated industrial applications (2). However, these ceramics are expensive to produce as high-quality thin films, and they often contain heavy metals such as Pb2+, which raises health and environmental concerns. Replacing heavy metals with organic components in the perovskite lattice was considered an alternative (3), but hybrid organic–inorganic perovskites have not shown comparable ferroelectricity and stability (4). On page 151 of this issue, Ye et al. (5) report metal-free perovskites that can compete with ferroelectric oxides (see the figure).