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Toroidal polar topology in strained ferroelectric polymer

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Science  05 Mar 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6533, pp. 1050-1056
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc4727

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Polarization hits a bull's-eye

Polymer-based ferroelectric materials are attractive because they can be solution processed cheaply and have much greater flexibility than ceramics. Guo et al. found concentric circular bands of polarization in a ferroelectric polymer that look like a bull's-eye target (see the Perspective by Martin). This self-organized toroidal texture is aligned perpendicularly to the axis of the polymer chains, allowing the authors to demonstrate selective absorption of infrared radiation and manipulation of terahertz radiation. This distinct structure in a polymer could be of interest for exploring and using other exotic effects.

Science, this issue p. 1050; see also p. 992

Abstract

Polar topological texture has become an emerging research field for exotic phenomena and potential applications in reconfigurable electronic devices. We report toroidal topological texture self-organized in a ferroelectric polymer, poly(vinylidene fluoride-ran-trifluoroethylene) [P(VDF-TrFE)], that exhibits concentric topology with anticoupled chiral domains. The interplay among the elastic, electric, and gradient energies results in continuous rotation and toroidal assembly of the polarization perpendicular to polymer chains, whereas relaxor behavior is induced along polymer chains. Such toroidal polar topology gives rise to periodic absorption of polarized far-infrared (FIR) waves, enabling the manipulation of the terahertz wave on a mesoscopic scale. Our observations should inform design principles for flexible ferroic materials toward complex topologies and provide opportunities for multistimuli conversions in flexible electronics.

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