High-frequency electromechanical imaging of ferroelectrics in a liquid environment

Nina Balke*, Stephen Jesse, Ying-hao Chu, Sergei V. Kalinin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The coupling between electrical and mechanical phenomena is a ubiquitous feature of many information and energy storage materials and devices. In addition to involvement in performance and degradation mechanisms, electromechanical effects underpin a broad spectrum of nanoscale imaging and spectroscopies including piezoresponse force and electrochemical strain microscopies. Traditionally, these studies are conducted under ambient conditions. However, applications related to imaging energy storage and electrophysiological phenomena require operation in a liquid phase and therefore the development of electromechanical probing techniques suitable to liquid environments. Due to the relative high conductivity of most liquids and liquid decomposition at low voltages, the transfer of characterization techniques from ambient to liquid is not straightforward. Here we present a detailed study of ferroelectric domain imaging and manipulation in thin film BiFeO 3 using piezoresponse force microscopy in liquid environments as model systems for electromechanical phenomena in general. We explore the use of contact resonance enhancement and the application of multifrequency excitation and detection principles to overcome the experimental problems introduced by a liquid environment. Understanding electromechanical sample characterization in liquid is a key aspect not only for ferroelectric oxides but also for biological and electrochemical sample systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5559-5565
Number of pages7
JournalACS Nano
Issue number6
StatePublished - 26 Jun 2012


  • ferroelectrics
  • liquid
  • scanning probe microscopy

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