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Electrostatics and domains in ferroelectric superlattices.

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Muñoz Basagoiti, Maitane 


The electrostatics arising in ferroelectric/dielectric two-dimensional heterostructures and superlattices is revisited within a Kittel model in order to define and complete a clear paradigmatic reference for domain formation. The screening of the depolarizing field in isolated ferroelectric or polar thin films via the formation of 180° domains is well understood, where the width of the domains w grows as the square-root of the film thickness d, following Kittel's Law for thick enough films (w ≪ d). For thinner films, a minimum is reached for w before diverging to a monodomain. Although this behaviour is known to be qualitatively unaltered when the dielectric environment of the film is modified, we consider the quantitative changes in that behaviour induced on the ferroelectric film by different dielectric settings: as deposited on a dielectric substrate, sandwiched between dielectrics, and in a superlattice of alternating ferroelectric/dielectric films. The model assumes infinitely thin domain walls, and therefore is not expected to be reliable for film thickness in the nanometre scale. The polarization field P(r) does vary in space, deviating from ±P S , following the depolarizing field in linear response, but the model does not include a polarization-gradient term as would appear in a Ginzburg-Landau free energy. The model is, however, worth characterizing, both as paradigmatic reference, and as applicable to not-so-thin films. The correct renormalization of parameters is obtained for the thick-film square-root behaviour in the mentioned settings, and the sub-Kittel regime is fully characterized. New results are presented alongside well-known ones for a comprehensive description. Among the former, a natural separation between strong and weak ferroelectric coupling in superlattices is found, which depends exclusively on the dielectric anisotropy of the ferroelectric layer.



ferroelectric, perovskite, superlattice

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R Soc Open Sci

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The Royal Society


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Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/L015552/1)