Temperature Effect on the Stability of the Polarized State Created by Local Electric Fields in Strontium Barium Niobate Single Crystals

The stability of ferroelectric domain patterns at the nanoscale has been a topic of much interest for many years. We investigated the relaxation of the polarized state created by application of a local electric field using a conductive tip of a scanning probe microscope for the model uniaxial relaxor system SrxBa1−xNb2O6 (SBN) in its pure and Ce-doped form. The temporal relaxation of the induced PFM contrast was measured at various temperatures. The average value of the induced contrast decreases during heating for all investigated crystals. Below the freezing temperature the induced state remains stable after an initial relaxation. Above the freezing temperature the induced state is unstable and gradually decays with time. The stability of the induced state is strongly affected by the measuring conditions, so continuous scanning results in a faster decay of the poled domain. The obtained effects are attributed to a decrease of the induced polarization and backswitching of the polarized area under the action of the depolarization field.


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