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Thermal Fluctuation of Ferroelectric Nanodomains in a Ferroelectric/Dielectric PbTiO3/SrTiO3 Superlattice


Zhang, Qingteng; Dufresne, Eric; Chen, Pice; Park, Joonkyu; Cosgriff, Margaret; Yusef, Mohammed ; Dong, Yongqi; Fong, Dillon; Zhou, Hua; Cai, Zhonghou; Harder, Ross; Callori, Sara ; Dawber, Matthew ; Evans, Paul; Sandy, Alec


Ferroelectric-dielectric superlattices consisting of alternating layers of ferroelectric PbTiO3 and dielectric SrTiO3 exhibit a disordered striped nanodomain pattern, with characteristic length scales of 6 nm for the domain periodicity and 30 nm for the in-plane coherence of the domain pattern. Spatial disorder in the domain pattern gives rise to coherent hard x-ray scattering patterns exhibiting intensity speckles. We show here using variable-temperature Bragg-geometry x-ray photon correlation spectroscopy that x-ray scattering patterns from the disordered domains exhibit a continuous temporal decorrelation due to spontaneous domain fluctuations. The temporal decorrelation can be described using a compressed exponential function, consistent with what has been observed in other systems with arrested dynamics. The fluctuation speeds up at higher temperatures and the thermal activation energy estimated from the Arrhenius model is 0.35±0.21  eV. The magnitude of the energy barrier implies that the complicated energy landscape of the domain structures is induced by pinning mechanisms and domain patterns fluctuate via the generation and annihilation of topological defects similar to soft materials such as block copolymers.



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