Electromechanical coupling among edge dislocations, domain walls, and nanodomains in BiFeO3 revealed by unit-cell-wise strain and polarization maps

A. Lubk*, M. D. Rossell, J. Seidel, Ying-hao Chu, R. Ramesh, M. J. Hÿtch, E. Snoeck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The performance of ferroelectric devices, for example, the ferroelectric field effect transistor, is reduced by the presence of crystal defects such as edge dislocations. For example, it is well-known that edge dislocations play a crucial role in the formation of ferroelectric dead-layers at interfaces and hence finite size effects in ferroelectric thin films. The detailed lattice structure including the relevant electromechanical coupling mechanisms in close vicinity of the edge dislocations is, however, not well-understood, which hampers device optimization. Here, we investigate edge dislocations in ferroelectric BiFeO3 by means of spherical aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy, a dedicated model-based structure analysis, and phase field simulations. Unit-cell-wise resolved strain and polarization profiles around edge dislocation reveal a wealth of material states including polymorph nanodomains and multiple domain walls characteristically pinned to the dislocation. We locally determine the piezoelectric tensor and identify piezoelectric coupling as the driving force for the observed phenomena, explaining, for example, the orientation of the domain wall with respect to the edge dislocation. Furthermore, an atomic model for the dislocation core is derived.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1410-1415
Number of pages6
JournalNano Letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - 10 Apr 2013


  • dislocation
  • domain wall
  • Ferroelectricity
  • finite size effect

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