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Adv Mater. 2018 Sep;30(38):e1802737. doi: 10.1002/adma.201802737. Epub 2018 Aug 6.

Control of Domain Structures in Multiferroic Thin Films through Defect Engineering.

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Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of California, Irvine, CA, 92697, USA.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109, USA.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Penn State University, University Park, PA, 16802, USA.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14853, USA.
Irvine Materials Research Institute, University of California, Irvine, CA, 92697, USA.
Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science, Ithaca, NY, 14853, USA.
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Irvine, CA, 92697, USA.


Domain walls (DWs) have become an essential component in nanodevices based on ferroic thin films. The domain configuration and DW stability, however, are strongly dependent on the boundary conditions of thin films, which make it difficult to create complex ordered patterns of DWs. Here, it is shown that novel domain structures, that are otherwise unfavorable under the natural boundary conditions, can be realized by utilizing engineered nanosized structural defects as building blocks for reconfiguring DW patterns. It is directly observed that an array of charged defects, which are located within a monolayer thickness, can be intentionally introduced by slightly changing substrate temperature during the growth of multiferroic BiFeO3 thin films. These defects are strongly coupled to the domain structures in the pretemperature-change portion of the BiFeO3 film and can effectively change the configuration of newly grown domains due to the interaction between the polarization and the defects. Thus, two types of domain patterns are integrated into a single film without breaking the DW periodicity. The potential use of these defects for building complex patterns of conductive DWs is also demonstrated.


defects; domain control; ferroelectrics; multiferroics


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