Metallic conductance in charged ferroelectric domain walls was predicted more than 40 years ago as the first example of an electronically active homointerface in a nonconductive material. Despite decades of research on oxide interfaces and ferroic systems, the metal-insulator transition induced solely by polarization charges without any additional chemical modification has consistently eluded the experimental realm. Here we show that a localized insulator-metal transition can be repeatedly induced within an insulating ferroelectric lead-zirconate titanate, merely by switching its polarization at the nanoscale. This surprising effect is traced to tilted boundaries of ferroelectric nanodomains, that act as localized homointerfaces within the perovskite lattice, with inherently tunable carrier density. Metallic conductance is unique to nanodomains, while the conductivity of extended domain walls and domain surfaces is thermally activated. Foreseeing future applications, we demonstrate that a continuum of nonvolatile metallic states across decades of conductance can be encoded in the size of ferroelectric nanodomains using electric field.
- domain wall
- scanning probe microscopy