Revealing the sequence of switching mechanisms in polycrystalline ferroelectric/ferroelastic materials

Jan Schultheiß*, Lisha Liu, Hans Kungl, Michael Weber, Laltiha Kodumudi Venkataraman, Stefano Checchia, Dragan Damjanovic, John E. Daniels, Jurij Koruza

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ferroelectric materials find application in numerous electronic devices and are continuously enabling the development of new technologies. Their versatility is intimately related to the unique property to switch the polarization with electric fields. However, the switching mechanisms in polycrystalline ferroelectric materials remain insufficiently understood. Here we reveal that switching in ferroelectric/ferroelastic materials consists of a sequence of individual events, separated into three regimes: rapid movement of non-180° domain walls, main switching phase with 180° and non-180° switching events, and creep-like non-180° domain wall movement. The determination of the mechanisms was enabled by a novel measurement approach, simultaneously tracking the time dynamics of switched polarization, macroscopic strain, and structural changes. Time-resolved in situ synchrotron diffraction allowed direct insight into the non-180° domain wall dynamics and lattice strains and gave evidence for strong time correlation of non-180° switching events in different grains of the polycrystalline material. The obtained results open new opportunities for targeted manipulation of individual switching events and tuning of material's functional properties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-363
Number of pages9
JournalActa Materialia
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2018


  • Domain switching
  • Electroceramics
  • Ferroelectric
  • Gibbs energy
  • High-energy X-ray diffraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Metals and Alloys


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