Engineering Relaxor Behavior in (BaTiO3)n/(SrTiO3)n Superlattices

E Lupi and RB Wexler and D Meyers and A Zahradnik and YZ Jiang and S Susarla and R Ramesh and LW Martin and AM Rappe, ADVANCED MATERIALS, 35 (2023).

DOI: 10.1002/adma.202302012

Complex-oxide superlattices provide a pathway to numerous emergent phenomena because of the juxtaposition of disparate properties and the strong interfacial interactions in these unit-cell-precise structures. This is particularly true in superlattices of ferroelectric and dielectric materials, wherein new forms of ferroelectricity, exotic dipolar textures, and distinctive domain structures can be produced. Here, relaxor-like behavior, typically associated with the chemical inhomogeneity and complexity of solid solutions, is observed in (BaTiO3)(n)/(SrTiO3)(n) (n = 4-20 unit cells) superlattices. Dielectric studies and subsequent Vogel-Fulcher analysis show significant frequency dispersion of the dielectric maximum across a range of periodicities, with enhanced dielectric constant and more robust relaxor behavior for smaller period n. Bond-valence molecular-dynamics simulations predict the relaxor-like behavior observed experimentally, and interpretations of the polar patterns via 2D discrete-wavelet transforms in shorter- period superlattices suggest that the relaxor behavior arises from shape variations of the dipolar configurations, in contrast to frozen antipolar stripe domains in longer-period superlattices (n = 16). Moreover, the size and shape of the dipolar configurations are tuned by superlattice periodicity, thus providing a definitive design strategy to use superlattice layering to create relaxor-like behavior which may expand the ability to control desired properties in these complex systems.

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