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Domain walls as new 2D functional materials

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Location

Kavli Royal Society Centre, Chicheley Hall, Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, MK16 9JJ

Overview

Theo Murphy international scientific meeting organised Professor Marty Gregg, Professor Marin Alexe and Professor James Scott FRS.

Spontaneous order of domains and domain walls in BaTiO3 nanodot

It has recently been realised that ferroic domain walls constitute a new group of 2D functional nanomaterials. With diverse properties, innate mobility and the capability to be spontaneously created or destroyed, the potential role for domain walls in novel devices is obvious. This meeting will consider the latest research on domain wall properties and their use in future applications.

Biographies and abstracts are available below, together with the schedule of talks. Alternatively you can download the draft programme (PDF)

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Schedule of talks

22 February

09:00-12:30

Session 1

4 talks Show detail Hide detail

Chairs

Professor James Scott FRS, University of Cambridge, UK

09:05-09:30 Emergent properties in ferroic domain walls

Professor Ekhard Salje FRS, University of Cambridge, UK

Abstract

Emergent properties of domain boundaries are - so far - mainly based on ferroelastic matrices with ferroelectric and magnetic properties superimposed to strain induced domain patterns. The vast majority of domain walls are  ferroelastic twin boundaries with two fundamental features: first they induce the emerging properties (superconductivity, polarity, ferroelectricity, magnetic stripes, emerging shape memory effects). The second aspect is ferroelastic pattern formation and the interaction with secondary order parameters. This interaction (e.g. as flexo-effect) may lead to incommensurations and the appearance of Lifshitz points in complex phase diagrams. The same hierarchy exists for walls in walls with line patterns inside two-dimensional domain walls akin to Bloch lines and Neel lines as predicted for magnetic structures. This talk will focus on such coupling phenomena and extend the discussion to polar tweed structures as the highest density pattern with induced dipolar properties.

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09:45-10:15 Identification of inversion domains in KTiOPO4 via resonant X-ray diffraction

Professor Pam Thomas, University of Warwick, UK

Abstract

In this talk, a novel method is presented (Acta Cryst (2015). A71, 361-367) for the identification of the absolute crystallographic structure in multi-domain polar materials such as ferroelectric KTiOPO4. Resonant (or ‘anomalous’) X-ray diffraction spectra collected across the absorption K edge of Ti (4.966 keV) on a single Bragg reflection demonstrate a huge intensity ratio above and below the edge, providing a polar domain contrast of ~270. This allows one to map the spatial domain distribution in a periodically inverted sample, with a resolution of  ~1m achieved with a microfocussed beam. This non-contact, non-destructive technique is well suited for samples of large dimensions (in contrast with traditional resonant X-ray methods based on diffraction from Friedel pairs), and its potential is particularly relevant in the context of physical phenomena connected with an absence of inversion symmetry, which require characterisation of the underlying absolute atomic structure (such as in the case of magnetoelectric coupling and multiferroics).

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11:00-11:30 Rise of Racetrack Memory! Domain wall spin-orbitronics

Professor Stuart Parkin FRS, Max Planck Institute for Microstructure Physics, Halle, Germany

Abstract

Memory-storage devices based on the current controlled motion of a series of domain walls (DWs) in magnetic racetracks promise performance and reliability beyond that of conventional magnetic disk drives and solid state storage devices1. Racetracks that are formed from atomically thin, perpendicularly magnetised nano-wires, interfaced with adjacent metal layers with high spin-orbit coupling, give rise to narrow domain walls that exhibit a chiral Néel structure2. These DWs can be moved very efficiently with current via chiral spin-orbit torques.2,3 Record-breaking current-induced domain wall speeds exceeding 1,000 m/sec are found in synthetic antiferromagnetic (SAF) structures3 in which the net magnetisation of the DWs is tuned to almost zero, making them ‘invisible’. Based on these recent discoveries, Racetrack Memory devices have the potential to operate on picosecond timescales and at densities more than 100 hundred times greater than other memory technologies. 
 
1. S. S. P. Parkin et al. 2008. Science 320, 5873; S. S. P. Parkin and S.-H. Yang. 2015. Nature Nanotech 10, 195.
2. K.-S. Ryu et al. 2013. Nature Nanotech 8, 527.
3. S.-H. Yang, K.-S. Ryu and S. S. P. Parkin. 2015. Nature Nanotech 10, 221.
4. S. S. P. Parkin. 1991. Phys. Rev. Lett. 67, 3598.

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11:45-12:15 Imaging Domain walls by Raman scattering and Photoelectron Microscopy

Professor Jens Kreisel, Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, Luxembourg

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12:30-13:30

Lunch

13:30-17:00

Session 2

4 talks Show detail Hide detail

Chairs

Professor Marty Gregg, Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland

13:30-14:00 Transport properties in rare earth manganites and multiferroics

Dr Dennis Meier, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Abstract

Unusual electronic properties arise at ferroelectric domain walls due to the low local symmetry and hypersensitivity of these natural oxide interfaces to electrostatics and strain. The hexagonal manganites are a particularly interesting example as their improper geometrically driven ferroelectricity naturally leads to the formation of neutral side-by-side and stable, charged head-to-head and tail-to-tail domain walls. The simultaneous emergence of these domain-wall states at room temperature allows for accessing a wide variety of domain-wall-related phenomena, so that the hexagonal manganites represent an ideal playground for studying the nanoscale physics of ferroelectric domain walls. In my talk I will discuss ferroelectric domain walls in hexagonal manganites across all relevant length scales, i.e., starting from the atomic wall structure up to the mesoscopic distances at which anomalous electronic conductance occurs. The goal is to develop a coherent picture of the structural, electrostatic, chemical, and transport properties based on the current knowledge, but also to highlight unsolved problems and future challenges. Going beyond as-grown properties, I will further discuss possible approaches for gaining reversible control of the performance at ferroelectric domain wall by exploiting, for instance, local field effects or the coupling to coexisting magnetic order as available in multiferroics.

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14:15-14:45 Novel materials at perovskite domain walls

Professor Beatriz Noheda, University of Groningen, Netherlands

Abstract

The last decade has seen an increasing interest in interfacial phenomena in oxides, very much originated by the access to exceptionally well defined interfaces between two different oxides, that is, atomically flat interfaces over an extension of micrometers. This led to the observation of interface ferromagnetism, a 2D electron gas between two insulating materials, or novel coupling phenomena in short-period superlattices, and has stimulated a vast amount of research. However, these ‘horizontal’ interfaces that are created upon epitaxial growth of a material onto another are of difficult access, particularly when they need to be probed electrically. Therefore, the investigation of interfacial phenomena at ferroelastic and ferroelectric domain walls, which are also atomically thin and accessible from the film surface, has become very popular. ‘Upright’ or ‘slanted’ interfaces can also be controlled to a great degree and they conveniently self-assemble with large densities during the growth process. Next to the symmetry breaking inherent to interfaces, the large strain gradients that ferroelastic domain walls bring about induce defect accumulation, enhanced polarisation or even the formation of novel chemical structures at and around domain walls, rendering them as fascinating objects. Having said that, it would be useful that, past the infatuation stage, we asked ourselves how much benefit is reasonable to expect of domain walls and what are the main hurdles ahead.

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15:30-16:00 New materials hidden inside old ones - the case of domain walls in multiferroic oxides

Jan Seidel, UNSW Australia, Australia

Abstract

Domain walls in complex oxides have recently received increased attention due to the fact that their properties, which are linked to the inherent order parameters of the material, its structure and symmetry, can be completely different from that of the parent bulk material. Professor Seidel will present an overview of recent results regarding new intrinsic properties of multiferroic phase boundaries, domain walls, and other topological defects in multiferroic materials. The origin and nature of the observed confined nanoscale properties are probed using a combination of nanoscale transport measurements based on scanning probe methods, high resolution transmission electron microscopy and first-principles density functional computations. He will also give an outlook on how these special properties can be found in other material systems and discuss possible future applications.

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16:15-16:45 Spintronic functionalities of domain walls in BiFeO3

Professor Marin Alexe, University of Warwick, UK

Abstract

In the field of multiferroics (MF) several systems have shown coexistence of electric and magnetic order, some of them with coupling between these order parameters. However, direct evidences of spintronic functionalities in presence of magnetoelectric coupling are still not systematically reported. Ferroic domain walls (DWs), which are intrinsically two dimensional nano-objects, are usually showing different functionalities as the host material. Moreover, they can be created, annihilated, injected, or simply moved, representing in this way a totally new playground for adaptive functional electronics. 

This talk will show a novel type of magnetoelectric coupling at the domain walls (DWs) in the multiferroic material BiFeO3 (BFO). FE DWs in BFO are not only conductive, but are also showing spin-dependent transport. This talk will also show the electronic transport across the domain walls in BFO is modulated by an external applied magnetic field, resembling the anisotropic magnetoresistance (AMR) in archetypical metallic ferromagnets. The talk will focus on the occurrence of AMR at the ferroelectric domain walls of BFO in simple typical capacitor geometry, showing that BFO conductive domain walls display hysteretical AMR. This effect results from the ferroelectric nature of domain walls magnetically coupled to the antiferromagnetic domains of BFO.

Independently, the magnetic nature of the ferroelectric domain walls in BFO has been revealed by high resolution transmission electron microscopy. This talk will show also the FM-FE coupling at atomic level domain walls in BFO single crystals at by aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy in which all atoms including oxygen are imaged directly.

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23 February

09:00-12:30

Session 3

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Chairs

Professor Marin Alexe, University of Warwick, UK

09:00-09:30 Controlling domain wall motion as a route towards new functionalities in Pb(Zr,Ti)O3 ferroelectric thin films

Dr Leo McGilly, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland

Abstract

Ferroelectric domain walls offer the exciting prospect of truly nanoscale reconfigurable circuits owing to their small thickness, typically ~1-5 nm, their inherently mobile nature and the functional properties they exhibit. However, to fully harness their potential as nanoscale functional entities, it is essential to achieve reliable and precise control of their nucleation, location, number and velocity. In this work we demonstrate an ability that allows extensive control of individual and multiple 180° domain walls in PbZr0.1Ti0.9O3 thin films. Instrumental in this implementation are the unique properties of the Pt top electrode deposited by electron-beam induced breakdown of a precursor gas. Additionally this work is accurately described through the framework of an analogy to the classical Stefan problem which has previously been used to describe many diverse systems but is here applied to electric circuits.

Furthermore advances towards readout of domain wall position, via a ‘read-restore’ technique will be presented. This method involves measurement of partial switching currents due to domain wall perturbations from an initial position through sub-switching voltage pulses.

Finally, understanding the interaction of domain walls with defects is crucial to tailoring their properties. Domain wall pinning/depinning has a significant impact on bulk materials properties. For future devices based on individual domain walls and their motion, defects could potentially kill or create functionality. Dr McGilly will show that local nanoscale defect regions can be used to modify imprint and domain wall motion. This adds an additional dimension to the domain-wall-control toolbox.

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09:45-10:15 Antiferroelectric photovoltaics

Professor Gustau Catalan, ICREA and Institut Catala de Nanociencia i Nanotecnologia, Spain.

Abstract

Among the many interesting features of ferroic domain walls, one that has attracted recent interest is their photovoltaic response, triggered by the observation of above-bandgap photovoltages proportional to the number of domain walls in BiFeO3 films.  However, ferroelectrics are known to also be able to display above-bandgap photovoltages even when in a mono-domain state, owing to the so-called ‘bulk photovoltaic effect’. Isolating the physics of the bulk photovoltaic effect is, however, complicated because the roles of shift currents, depolarisation fields, domain walls and even photochemistry are generally entangled. 

In an effort to better understand the bulk photovoltaic effect, we have studied the photovoltaic properties of antiferroelectric thin films of PbZrO3 grown on transparent conductive substrates. We find the effect to be independent of depolarisation fields or domains, and depend only on internal symmetry (shift current theory) and on conductivity: the bulk photovoltaic effect is ‘switched on’ only when the antiferroelectric is switched into the polar state, and remains stable even in the absence of external bias thanks to the photorefractive pinning of the polar state. This allows antiferroelectrics to functionally mimic the photovoltaic behaviour of ferroelectrics, thus becoming a second family of materials where the bulk photovoltaic effect is possible.

Quantitatively, the photovoltage is the product of the (intrinsic) shift current times the (extrinsic) resistivity of the film, which explains the large dispersion of photovoltages reported for the same material. This also means that high resistivity films can display giant photovoltages only limited by the breakdown strength of the film; in the particular case of our antiferroelectric films, photovoltages in excess of 100 V can be achieved in the vertical direction. When divided by thickness, the resulting photoelectric fields are >5MV/cm, the largest ever reported for any material. 

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11:00-11:30 Domain wall transport and novel device architectures in PZT thin films

Professor Patrycja Paruch, University of Geneva, Switzerland

Abstract

In ferroelectric materials, domain walls separate regions with different polarisation orientation, and can present novel functional properties quite different from those of the parent phase. The extreme localisation of such properties at these intrinsically nanoscale features makes them potentially useful as active components in future miniaturised electronic devices. 

Particularly exciting has been the discovery of domain-wall-specific electrical conduction in many ferroelectric families. Here, I will present our scanned probe microscopy observations of such conduction in Pb(Zr,Ti)O3 (PZT), highlighting the key role of oxygen vacancies and surface adsorbates, whose distribution can be modulated to reversibly control domain wall transport. We also map out the effects of the surface adsorbates on polarisation switching and domain wall velocities under different conditions of relative humidity. Using a ‘pump-probe’ approach, we explore the earliest stages of domain switching, demonstrating unexpectedly long lifetimes for the subcritical nucleus formed under ultrashort high voltage pulses.

In the same ferroelectric samples, we also find an unusual piezoelectric shear response, forbidden by symmetry in the parent phase, which could be technologically important for ferroelectric based surface acoustic wave devices.

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11:45-12:15 Polarisation-enabled electronic transport in ferroelectric films

Professor Alexei Gruverman, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA

Abstract

Variability of the electronic properties of 2D materials and ferroelectrics (FE) offers a wealth of fundamentally important physical phenomena and exciting technological opportunities for the hybrid 2D-FE heterostructures comprised of these materials. Among particularly promising aspects of these heterostructures is a coupling between the electrically-switchable polarisation and electronic transport, which allows realisation of advanced devices with enhanced functional characteristics. This talk will focus on recent advances in realisation of these electronic devices. Specifically, we employ polarisation reversal to modulate (1) the in-plane transport of the interfacial conducting channel in the ferroelectric field effect transistor (FE-FET) devices, and (2) the perpendicular-to-plane tunnelling conductance across the ferroelectric barrier in the ferroelectric tunnel junction (FTJ) devices. We show that interface engineering in the 2D-FE systems provides a possibility of successfully addressing the most serious challenges relevant to device performance, such as ON/OFF ratio, lifetime, operation endurance and reliability.

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12:30-13:30

Lunch

13:30-17:00

Session 4

4 talks Show detail Hide detail

Chairs

Professor Gustau Catalan, ICREA and Institut Catala de Nanociencia i Nanotecnologia, Spain.

13:30-14:00 Ultrafast chiral domain wall dynamics due to spin-orbit effects

Professor Mathias Kläui, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany

Abstract

Topological spin structures that emerge due to the Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya interaction (DMI), such as chiral domain walls and skyrmions possess a high stability and are of key importance for magnetic memories and logic devices.

Spin orbit effect address two key challenges in spintronics devices based on domain walls: (i) chiral exchange coupling such as the DMI increase domain wall robustness and stability and (ii) spin-orbit torques lead to ultra-efficient domain wall manipulation.

Professor Klaui and colleagues have investigated in detail the dynamics of domain walls and find that in addition to conventional spin transfer torque, also spin orbit torques play a key role. By comparing the wall motion with current-induced magnetization switching in our systems, it can be deduced that the spin-orbit torques independently of the DMI and we find that the motion observed Ta(5nm)/Co20Fe60B20(1nm)/MgO(2nm) can be attributed to a DMI that is opposite to such stacks with a magnetic CoFe layer pointing to the B at the interface that governs the sign of the DMI.

For skyrmions Professor Klaui demonstrates for the first time that we can move a train of skyrmions in a “racetrack”-type device due to spin-orbit torques reliably and find skyrmion lattices at room temperature in confined geometries. Single skyrmion dynamics is imaged using x-ray holography and from the trajectories a large mass is deduced that directly results from the topology of the skyrmion.

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14:15-14:45 Relaxation dynamics and pinning of domain walls coupled to strain

Professor Michael Carpenter, University of Cambridge, UK

Abstract

The mobility of ferroelastic twin walls in perovskites under application of external stress is generally well understood and conforms to expectations from considerations of wall thickness, number density and interactions with defects. Different mechanisms, such as back and forth motion of needle tips and migration of ledges along the length of the walls occupy different regions of parameter space according to the relaxation times and stress levels involved. However, these appear to become jammed if two separate ferroelastic instabilities become coupled. In systems which are ferroelectric, the response to external strain again depends on a contrast in shear strain across 90° twin walls but the diversity of domain types increases, to include both static and dynamic polar nano-regions. The influence of these is seen in elastic softening in the stability field of the para phase. Magnetic domain walls similarly can combine gradients in the magnetic order parameter with gradients in strain to give walls which behave like other ferroelastic twin walls in some cases. In other cases, elastic stiffening indicates that the normal strain relaxation mechanism does not occur. The strength and dynamics of these effects are seen in changes of elastic constants and an elastic loss which can be observed by Resonant Ultrasound Spectroscopy in a wide variety of ferroic and multiferroic materials such as LaAlO3, LaCoO3, EuTiO3, PbFe0.5Nb0.5O3, PbFe0.5Ta0.5O3 and KMnF3.

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15:30-16:00 Atomic Resolution Electron Microscopy: a tiny world with exciting possibilities in oxides

Dr Ana Sanchez, University of Warwick, UK

Abstract

The development of spherical aberration correctors for electromagnetic lenses established a major improvement in the new generation of electron microscopes. The growing desire to control materials at an atomic level requires capabilities to image and analyse material at this scale. This talk will give a brief introduction to the state of the art electron microscopy, and its application to two different oxide materials.

Using aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), we analysed in detail the domain structure of Co/PbTiO3/(La,Sr)MnO3 ferroelectric tunnel junctions. Annular Bright Field (ABF) imaging was used to directly visualise both cations (Pb,Ti) and oxygen position, measuring the relative displacement and dipole distribution unit cell by unit cell. The dipole maps of different PbTiO3 thin films revealed a clear influence on the equilibrium domain pattern.

PbSc0.5Ta0.5O3 is an ergodic relaxor, forming polar nano regions that fluctuate in polarisation. Under appropriate imaging conditions a tweed/domain structure is visible using transmission electron microscopy, which is seen to switch repeatedly at room temperature. The domains become smaller on heating as the Curie temperature is approached, while they enlarge and slow down upon cooling, switching over seconds or being completely static at liquid nitrogen temperature.

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16:15-16:45 Wrinkling, folding, vortex formation, and delamination: four stages of ferroelastic domain bifurcations

Professor James Scott FRS, University of Cambridge, UK

Abstract

In this talk Professor Scott will present examples in which domains and domain walls in multiferroics are best described via fluid mechanics and not conventional hysteresis behaviour.  The systems examined include wrinkling and the onset of capillary waves along the leading edge in ferroelectric lead germanate  Pb5Ge3O11 (Ph.D. thesis of Alexei Gruverman, Ekaterinburg 1990); folding of ferroelastic domains in PbFe(1/2)Nb(1/2)O3/PZT and PbFe(1/2)Ta(1/2)O3/PZT; and vortex arrays in PZT (Ramesh et al., Nature 2015).

These phenomena are viscosity-driven saddle points, with velocity and/or field thresholds (e.g., 150 kV/cm in lead germanate).  The result is often nm-wide ferroelectric rectilinear domains nestled inside larger (100-nm) ferroelastic domains; the latter have highly curved walls, violating the Landau-Lifshitz-Kittel Laws, but compatible with the "walls within walls" model of Janovec and Privratska. This model also suggests that ferroic domains that exhibit folding will not exhibit skyrmion-like vortex arrays; folding requires relatively low domain viscosity whereas vortex arrays are favored by higher viscosity.

The simplest model that exhibits folding bifurcations in two dimensions is

dy/dt = a - dy - by2

dx/dt = cx.

These approximate the Standard Linear Model (Kelvin-Voigt plus Maxwell elements) in stress-strain mechanics, although for real metals, the exponent by2 is more typically by5 (1943 Osgood Model).

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Domain walls as new 2D functional materials

Theo Murphy international scientific meeting organised Professor Marty Gregg, Professor Marin Alexe and Professor James Scott FRS.

Kavli Royal Society Centre, Chicheley Hall Newport Pagnell Buckinghamshire MK16 9JJ
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