Electronic switching by metastable polarization states in BiFeO3 thin films

Ye Cao, Mark Huijben, Rama K. Vasudevan, Sergei V. Kalinin, Petro Maksymovych (Corresponding Author)

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We present an approach to control resistive switching in metal-ferroelectric contacts using a radially symmetric electric field. In ferroelectrics with significant polarization along the corresponding field lines, the field above a critical threshold will induce polarization discontinuity, a corresponding nanoscale volume of space charge, and a conducting junction. We demonstrate this principle using nanoscale polarization switching of a conventional (001)-oriented thin film of BiFeO3. Without any optimization, the conducting state created in this regime of resistive switching exhibits local currents of ∼1–10nA, approaching the ∼100nA threshold required for device implementation [J. Jiang et al., Nat. Mater. 17, 49 (2018)]. The corresponding electronic function is that of a volatile resistive switch, which is directly compatible with neuristor functionality that encodes the functioning basis of an axon [M. D. Pickett et al., Nat. Mater. 12, 114 (2013)]. Phase-field modeling further reveals that in the strongly charged local configuration, BiFeO3 locally undergoes a rhombohedral-tetragonal (R-T) phase transition, in part due to substantial piezoelectric expansion of the lattice. The estimated local charge density can be as high as ∼1021cm−3, which would be extremely difficult to achieve by conventional doping approaches without altering other material properties. Therefore, this method for creating stable and reproducible strongly charged ferroelectric junctions enables more systematic studies of their physical properties, such as the possibility of structural and electronic phase transitions, and it can lead to new ferroelectric devices for advanced information functions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number094401
JournalPhysical review B: Covering condensed matter and materials physics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sept 2018


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