Kelvin Probe Force Microscopy and Electrostatic Force Microscopy responses to the polarization in a ferroelectric thin film: theoretical and experimental investigations

Mireille Cuniot-Ponsard 1
1 Laboratoire Charles Fabry / Manolia
LCF - Laboratoire Charles Fabry
Abstract : electrostatic force microscopy (EFM)) to provide quantitative information about the remnant polarization in a ferroelectric thin film is theoretically and experimentally investigated. The theoretical relationship between the microscopic signal and the polarization in the film is established: it is linear in the KPFM mode and parabolic in the EFM mode. The KPFM and EFM signals are predicted tip-shape, tip-surface distance, and poled area dimensions dependent so that an absolute value of the polarization cannot be extracted. Nevertheless provided these parameters are held constant, KPFM theoretically enables to investigate quantitatively the polarization dependence on any parameter relative to the film preparation conditions or to the poling process. It does not enable to investigate its dependence on poled area geometry. Based on these conclusions, experimental KPFM investigations have been carried out on a ferroelectric strontium barium niobate (SrxBa1xNb2O6, SBN:100x) epitaxial thin film deposited on a platinum covered MgO substrate. Poled areas are created in the film by moving the biased tip in contact with the surface. KPFM images are dominated by the written polarization and not by injected or attracted extrinsic charges. The experimental decay of the KPFM signal with increasing tip-surface distance confirms the contribution of the volume of the lever/tip to the KPFM response. The spontaneous evolution of the written polarization as well as the polarization dependence on poling voltage and poling duration are investigated using KPFM, with the poled area dimensions as a parameter. For comparison, the macroscopic remnant polarization in the SBN film has been measured versus poling field from hysteresis cycles drawn using a macroscopic Pt dot as top contact. The significant difference observed between macroscopic and microscopic results can be accounted for by using a simple model of the inhomogeneous electric field generated by a poling tip. KPFM measurements do not alter the initial polarization of the film and can provide essential qualitative and quantitative information on the polarization in a ferroelectric thin film.VC 2013 AIP Publishing LLC.
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Mireille Cuniot-Ponsard. Kelvin Probe Force Microscopy and Electrostatic Force Microscopy responses to the polarization in a ferroelectric thin film: theoretical and experimental investigations. Journal of Applied Physics, American Institute of Physics, 2013, 114 (1), pp.014302. 〈10.1063/1.4812393〉. 〈hal-00841425〉

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