Molecular dynamics simulations of ferroelectric domain formation by oxygen vacancy

Lin Zhu, Jeong Ho You, Jinghong Chen, Changdong Yeo

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7 Scopus citations


An oxygen vacancy, known to be detrimental to ferroelectric properties, has been investigated numerically for the potential uses to control ferroelectric domains in films using molecular dynamics simulations based on the first-principles effective Hamiltonian. As an electron donor, an oxygen vacancy generates inhomogeneous electrostatic and displacement fields which impose preferred polarization directions near the oxygen vacancy. When the oxygen vacancies are placed at the top and bottom interfaces, the out-of-plane polarizations are locally developed near the interfaces in the directions away from the interfaces. These polarizations from the interfaces are in opposite directions so that the overall out-of-plane polarization becomes significantly reduced. In the middle of the films, the in-plane domains are formed with containing 90° a 1/a 2 domain walls and the films are polarized along the [1 1 0] direction even when no electric field is applied. With oxygen vacancies placed at the top interface only, the films exhibit asymmetric hysteresis loops, confirming that the oxygen vacancies are one of the possible sources of ferroelectric imprint. It has been qualitatively demonstrated that the domain structures in the imprint films can be turned on and off by controlling an external field along the thickness direction. This study shows qualitatively that the oxygen vacancies can be utilized for tuning ferroelectric domain structures in films.

Original languageEnglish
Article number185303
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number18
StatePublished - Apr 13 2018


  • effective Hamiltonian
  • ferroelectric domain
  • ferroelectric film
  • oxygen vacancy

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