Phase transitions in ferroelectric-paraelectric superlattices
Levanyuk, Arkadi P. and Mısırlıoğlu, Burç (2011) Phase transitions in ferroelectric-paraelectric superlattices. Journal of Applied Physics, 110 (11). ISSN 0021-8979
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.3662197
Within the phenomenological Landau–Ginzburg–Devonshire theory, we discuss the paraelectric-ferrolectric transition in superstructures consisting of ferroelectric and paraelectric layers of equal thickness. The polar axis of the ferroelectric is perpendicular to the layer plane as expected in fully strained BaTiO3/SrTiO3 superstructures on SrTiO3 substrates with pseudomorphic electrodes. We concentrate on the electrostatic effects and do not take into account the boundary conditions other than the electrostatic ones. We find that when the ferroelectric phase transition in the superstructures is into a multidomain state, both its temperature and its character, i. e., the profile of the polarization appearing at the phase transition is strongly influenced by the nature of the near-electrode region. This is also the case for the layer thickness separating the single-and multidomain regimes of the transition. Such a finding makes us question the idea that these superstructures can be thought of as infinite systems, i.e., periodic superstructures similar to a crystal. The irrelevance of this idea in certain conditions is demonstrated by comparing the phase transitions in two different superstructures consisting of ferroelectric and paraelectric layers of the same thickness. In one of them, the ferroelectric layer is in immediate contact with an ideal metallic electrode, whereas at the other boundary, it is the paraelectric layer that is in contact with the electrode. In another superstructure, one paraelectric layer is split in two equal parts which are placed as the first and last layer between the electrodes and the ferroelectric layers which are closest to the electrodes. We show (with some formal reservations) that the phase transition temperature in the first superstructure can be over 100 °C more than in the second one if the material parameters of BaTiO3/SrTiO3 are used for the estimations. Moreover, the profile of the polarization arising at the phase transition is inhomogeneous along the superstructure and has the maximum amplitude in the ferroelectric layer contacting the electrode. We argue that this situation is general and results in smearing of the phase transition anomalies for the layer thicknesses corresponding to multidomain transitions. The work is mainly analyical but numerical methods have been used to support some statements that have been put forward as hypotheses.
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