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Phys Rev Lett. 2012 Apr 13;108(15):157604. Epub 2012 Apr 13.

Substrate clamping effects on irreversible domain wall dynamics in lead zirconate titanate thin films.

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Materials Research Institute and Materials Science and Engineering Department, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA.


The role of long-range strain interactions on domain wall dynamics is explored through macroscopic and local measurements of nonlinear behavior in mechanically clamped and released polycrystalline lead zirconate-titanate (PZT) films. Released films show a dramatic change in the global dielectric nonlinearity and its frequency dependence as a function of mechanical clamping. Furthermore, we observe a transition from strong clustering of the nonlinear response for the clamped case to almost uniform nonlinearity for the released film. This behavior is ascribed to increased mobility of domain walls. These results suggest the dominant role of collective strain interactions mediated by the local and global mechanical boundary conditions on the domain wall dynamics. The work presented in this Letter demonstrates that measurements on clamped films may considerably underestimate the piezoelectric coefficients and coupling constants of released structures used in microelectromechanical systems, energy harvesting systems, and microrobots.

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