PerspectiveMaterials Science

Ferroelectric Organic Materials Catch Up with Oxides

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Science  25 Jan 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6118, pp. 401-402
DOI: 10.1126/science.1232939

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In a ferroelectric material, electric dipoles inherent in the atomic structure (such as might form between cations and anions) can couple with each other so that they align in parallel, creating domains of aligned dipoles. The dipoles, and consequently the domains, can reorient and align with the applied electric field. After the discovery of ferroelectricity in barium titanate (BaTiO3) (1), ferroelectric device applications developed (2), such as the storage of charge in ferroelectric capacitors used in dynamic random access memories. One drawback of oxide materials is that they are not as simple to process into films as organic materials, but typically ferroelectric organic materials have not had comparable properties. On page 425 of this issue, Fu et al. (3) present compelling evidence for a molecular compound that can rival ferroelectric oxides.