Super-elastic ferroelectric single-crystal membrane with continuous electric dipole rotation

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Science  25 Oct 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6464, pp. 475-479
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay7221

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Flexible ferroelectrics

High-quality ferroelectric materials, which polarize in response to an electric field, are usually oxides that crack when bent. Dong et al. found that high-quality membranes of barium titanate are surprisingly flexible and super-elastic. These films accommodate large strains through dynamic evolution of nanodomains during deformation. This discovery is important for developing more robust flexible devices.

Science, this issue p. 475


Ferroelectrics are usually inflexible oxides that undergo brittle deformation. We synthesized freestanding single-crystalline ferroelectric barium titanate (BaTiO3) membranes with a damage-free lifting-off process. Our BaTiO3 membranes can undergo a ~180° folding during an in situ bending test, demonstrating a super-elasticity and ultraflexibility. We found that the origin of the super-elasticity was from the dynamic evolution of ferroelectric nanodomains. High stresses modulate the energy landscape markedly and allow the dipoles to rotate continuously between the a and c nanodomains. A continuous transition zone is formed to accommodate the variant strain and avoid high mismatch stress that usually causes fracture. The phenomenon should be possible in other ferroelectrics systems through domain engineering. The ultraflexible epitaxial ferroelectric membranes could enable many applications such as flexible sensors, memories, and electronic skins.

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