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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 8, 2023
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  4. Abstract

    Over the last 30 years, the study of ferroelectric oxides has been revolutionized by the implementation of epitaxial‐thin‐film‐based studies, which have driven many advances in the understanding of ferroelectric physics and the realization of novel polar structures and functionalities. New questions have motivated the development of advanced synthesis, characterization, and simulations of epitaxial thin films and, in turn, have provided new insights and applications across the micro‐, meso‐, and macroscopic length scales. This review traces the evolution of ferroelectric thin‐film research through the early days developing understanding of the roles of size and strain on ferroelectrics to the present day, where such understanding is used to create complex hierarchical domain structures, novel polar topologies, and controlled chemical and defect profiles. The extension of epitaxial techniques, coupled with advances in high‐throughput simulations, now stands to accelerate the discovery and study of new ferroelectric materials. Coming hand‐in‐hand with these new materials is new understanding and control of ferroelectric functionalities. Today, researchers are actively working to apply these lessons in a number of applications, including novel memory and logic architectures, as well as a host of energy conversion devices.

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  5. Abstract

    Despite extensive studies on size effects in ferroelectrics, how structures and properties evolve in antiferroelectrics with reduced dimensions still remains elusive. Given the enormous potential of utilizing antiferroelectrics for high‐energy‐density storage applications, understanding their size effects will provide key information for optimizing device performances at small scales. Here, the fundamental intrinsic size dependence of antiferroelectricity in lead‐free NaNbO3membranes is investigated. Via a wide range of experimental and theoretical approaches, an intriguing antiferroelectric‐to‐ferroelectric transition upon reducing membrane thickness is probed. This size effect leads to a ferroelectric single‐phase below 40 nm, as well as a mixed‐phase state with ferroelectric and antiferroelectric orders coexisting above this critical thickness. Furthermore, it is shown that the antiferroelectric and ferroelectric orders are electrically switchable. First‐principle calculations further reveal that the observed transition is driven by the structural distortion arising from the membrane surface. This work provides direct experimental evidence for intrinsic size‐driven scaling in antiferroelectrics and demonstrates enormous potential of utilizing size effects to drive emergent properties in environmentally benign lead‐free oxides with the membrane platform.

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  6. Abstract

    The hafnate perovskites PbHfO3(antiferroelectric) and SrHfO3(“potential” ferroelectric) are studied as epitaxial thin films on SrTiO3(001) substrates with the added opportunity of observing a morphotropic phase boundary (MPB) in the Pb1−xSrxHfO3system. The resulting (240)‐oriented PbHfO3(Pba2) films exhibited antiferroelectric switching with a saturation polarization ≈53 µC cm−2at 1.6 MV cm−1, weak‐field dielectric constant ≈186 at 298 K, and an antiferroelectric‐to‐paraelectric phase transition at ≈518 K. (002)‐oriented SrHfO3films exhibited neither ferroelectric behavior nor evidence of a polarP4mmphase . Instead, the SrHfO3films exhibited a weak‐field dielectric constant ≈25 at 298 K and no signs of a structural transition to a polar phase as a function of temperature (77–623 K) and electric field (–3 to 3 MV cm−1). While the lack of ferroelectric order in SrHfO3removes the potential for MPB, structural and property evolution of the Pb1−xSrxHfO3(0 ≤x < 1) system is explored. Strontium alloying increased the electric‐breakdown strength (EB) and decreased hysteresis loss, thus enhancing the capacitive energy storage density (Ur) and efficiency (η). The composition, Pb0.5Sr0.5HfO3produced the best combination ofEB = 5.12 ± 0.5 MV cm−1,Ur = 77 ± 5 J cm−3, and η = 97 ± 2%, well out‐performing PbHfO3and other antiferroelectric oxides.

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  7. Dielectric capacitors can store and release electric energy at ultrafast rates and are extensively studied for applications in electronics and electric power systems. Among various candidates, thin films based on relaxor ferroelectrics, a special kind of ferroelectric with nanometer-sized domains, have attracted special attention because of their high energy densities and efficiencies. We show that high-energy ion bombardment improves the energy storage performance of relaxor ferroelectric thin films. Intrinsic point defects created by ion bombardment reduce leakage, delay low-field polarization saturation, enhance high-field polarizability, and improve breakdown strength. We demonstrate energy storage densities as high as ~133 joules per cubic centimeter with efficiencies exceeding 75%. Deterministic control of defects by means of postsynthesis processing methods such as ion bombardment can be used to overcome the trade-off between high polarizability and breakdown strength.

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