The role of lattice dynamics in ferroelectric switching

Qiwu Shi*, Eric Parsonnet, Xiaoxing Cheng, Natalya Fedorova, Ren Ci Peng, Abel Fernandez, Alexander Qualls, Xiaoxi Huang, Xue Chang, Hongrui Zhang, David Pesquera, Sujit Das, Dmitri Nikonov, Ian Young, Long Qing Chen, Lane W. Martin, Yen-Lin Huang, Jorge Íñiguez, Ramamoorthy Ramesh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Reducing the switching energy of ferroelectric thin films remains an important goal in the pursuit of ultralow-power ferroelectric memory and logic devices. Here, we elucidate the fundamental role of lattice dynamics in ferroelectric switching by studying both freestanding bismuth ferrite (BiFeO3) membranes and films clamped to a substrate. We observe a distinct evolution of the ferroelectric domain pattern, from striped, 71° ferroelastic domains (spacing of ~100 nm) in clamped BiFeO3 films, to large (10’s of micrometers) 180° domains in freestanding films. By removing the constraints imposed by mechanical clamping from the substrate, we can realize a ~40% reduction of the switching voltage and a consequent ~60% improvement in the switching speed. Our findings highlight the importance of a dynamic clamping process occurring during switching, which impacts strain, ferroelectric, and ferrodistortive order parameters and plays a critical role in setting the energetics and dynamics of ferroelectric switching.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1110
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Mar 2022


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