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September 8, 2023

Atomic-Level of the Domain Walls in Bismuth Ferrite in a Subcoercive-Field Regime

The atomic-level response of zigzag ferroelectric domain walls (DWs) was investigated with in situ bias scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) in a subcoercive-field regime. Atomic-level movement of a single DW was observed. Unexpectedly, the change in the position of the DW, determined from the atomic displacement, did not follow the position of the strain field when the electric field was applied. This can be explained as low mobility defect segregation at the initial DW position, such as ordered clusters of oxygen vacancies. Further, the triangular apex of the zigzag wall is pinned, but it changes its shape and becomes asymmetric under electrical stimuli. This phenomenon is accompanied by strain and bound charge redistribution. We report on unique atomic-scale phenomena at the DW level and show that in situ STEM studies with atomic resolution are very relevant as they complement, and sometimes challenge, the knowledge gained from lower resolution studies.

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