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Nat Mater. 2012 Feb 26;11(4):284-8. doi: 10.1038/nmat3249.

Anisotropic conductance at improper ferroelectric domain walls.

Abstract

Transition metal oxides hold great potential for the development of new device paradigms because of the field-tunable functionalities driven by their strong electronic correlations, combined with their earth abundance and environmental friendliness. Recently, the interfaces between transition-metal oxides have revealed striking phenomena, such as insulator-metal transitions, magnetism, magnetoresistance and superconductivity. Such oxide interfaces are usually produced by sophisticated layer-by-layer growth techniques, which can yield high-quality, epitaxial interfaces with almost monolayer control of atomic positions. The resulting interfaces, however, are fixed in space by the arrangement of the atoms. Here we demonstrate a route to overcoming this geometric limitation. We show that the electrical conductance at the interfacial ferroelectric domain walls in hexagonal ErMnO(3) is a continuous function of the domain wall orientation, with a range of an order of magnitude. We explain the observed behaviour using first-principles density functional and phenomenological theories, and relate it to the unexpected stability of head-to-head and tail-to-tail domain walls in ErMnO(3) and related hexagonal manganites. As the domain wall orientation in ferroelectrics is tunable using modest external electric fields, our finding opens a degree of freedom that is not accessible to spatially fixed interfaces.

PMID:
22367003
DOI:
10.1038/nmat3249

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