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Phys Rev Lett. 2010 May 28;104(21):217601. Epub 2010 May 24.

Polarization-modulated rectification at ferroelectric surfaces.

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Rutgers Center for Emergent Materials and Department of Physics and Astronomy, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA.


By correlating room temperature conductive atomic force microscopy with low temperature electrostatic force microscopy images of the same sample region, we demonstrate that nanoscale electric conduction between a sharp tip and the surface of ferroelectric HoMnO3 is intrinsically modulated by the polarization of ferroelectric domains. Conductance spectra reveal that the electric conduction is described by polarization-induced Schottky-like rectification at low bias, but dominated by a space-charge limited conduction mechanism at high bias. Our observation demonstrates visualization of ferroelectric domain structure by electric conduction, which may be used for nondestructive readout of nanoscale ferroelectric memories and/or ferroelectric sensors.

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