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posted on 04.08.2020 by Keisuke Yazawa
The polarization response such as ferroelectric and ferroelastic switching in ferroelectrics is the important feature for ferroelectric and electromechanical applications. In polycrystalline form ferroelectrics, effects of the microstructural parameters such as texture, grain size, and residual stress are there and have not fully been understood. Among these effects, (1) the origin of grain size effects on ferroelastic switching, (2) mechanical stress effects on polarization switching, and (3) ferroelectric switching kinetics and the relationship to grain boundaries are investigated.
Firstly, the microscopic origin of ferroelastic switching suppression in smaller grains is discovered using a microscopic probing technique (piezoresponse force microscopy). It is demonstrated that there is no independent grain size effect on ferroelastic switching; the grain size affects the domain structure in a grain, and the domain structure plays an important role in the ferroelastic switching suppression. This result suggests that the grain size is not an independent critical parameter for the electromechanical property degradation in a grain < 1 m as the ferroelastic switching is a dominant component for the electromechanical property.
The study about the mechanical stress effects on the electric field induced polarization switching rationalizes the emergence of the electric field induced low-symmetry phases observed in tetragonal Pb(Zr,Ti)O3 and BaTiO3 ceramics after poling. It is demonstrated that a shear stress plays an important role in stabilizing the monoclinic phase in Pb(Zr,Ti)O3 whereas a normal stress along the polarization axis is a key for the monoclinic phase in BaTiO3 with a thermodynamic approach. It is suggested that the fraction of the low-symmetry phase, which is important for the large electromechanical property, can be engineered by applying an appropriate stress.
For the work about ferroelectric switching kinetics, the first direct Barkhausen noise associated with ferroelectric switching is measured. The domain switching time is quantified by the frequency of the Barkhausen noise. It is discovered that the dominant domain wall pinning site is grain boundaries based on the domain wall jump distance between pinning sites calculated from the switching time. This result suggests that the technique is a good tool for understanding the relationship between microstructure – domain wall kinetics.
In sum, the mechanisms of the polarization switching suppression due to domain structure and grain boundaries, and the emergence of the low symmetry phases due to stresses are revealed. These discoveries facilitate further improvements of the device performances with engineering the domain structure, grain boundaries and residual stress.


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy


Materials Engineering

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

John Blendell

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Carol Handwerker

Additional Committee Member 2

Edwin García

Additional Committee Member 3

Eric Kvam