According to J. Karthik, the first author on the group's paper, thin-film epitaxy has been developed to provide a set of parameters (e.g., film composition, epitaxial strain, electrical boundary conditions, and thickness) that allow for precise control of ferroelectrics and has been instrumental in understanding the physics of dielectric and piezoelectric effects.
"We investigated the contribution of 90 domain walls and thermal expansion mismatch to pyroelectricity in ferroelectric PbZr0.2Ti0.8O3 thin films, a widely used material whose bulk ferroelectric and piezoelectric properties are well understood," Karthik explained. As part of this work, Martin's Prometheus research group developed and applied the first phenomenological models to include extrinsic and secondary contributions to pyroelectricity in polydomain films and predict significant extrinsic contributions (arising from the temperature-dependent motion of domain walls) and large secondary contributions (arising from thermal expansion mismatch between the film and the substrate).
"We have also developed and applied a new phase-sensitive pyroelectric current measurement process to measure thin films for the first time and reveal a dramatic increase in the pyroelectric coefficient with increasing fraction of in-plane oriented domains and thermal expansion mismatch consistent with these models," Karthik said.
"By establishing an understanding of the science of these effects, with models to predict their performance, and demonstrated techniques to fabricate and utilize these properties in nanoscale versions of these materials, their properties can be effectively integrated into existing electronics," Martin said.
|Contact: Lane Martin, Ph.D.|
University of Illinois College of Engineering