Conducting ferroelectric domain walls emulating aspects of neurological behavior

A. Suna*, O.E. Baxter, J.P.V. McConville, A. Kumar, R.G.P. McQuaid, J.M. Gregg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


The electrical conductivity of lithium niobate thin film capacitor structures depends on the density of conducting 180° domain walls, that traverse the interelectrode gap, and on their inclination angle with respect to the polarization axis. Both microstructural characteristics can be altered by applying electric fields, but changes are time-dependent and relax, upon field removal, into a diverse range of remanent states. As a result, the measured conductance is a complex history-dependent function of electric field and time. Here, we show that complexity in the kinetics of microstructural change, in this ferroelectric system, can generate transport behavior that is strongly reminiscent of that seen in key neurological building blocks, such as synapses. Successive voltage pulses, of positive and negative polarity, progressively enhance or suppress domain wall related conductance (analogous to synaptic potentiation and depression), in a way that depends on both the pulse voltage magnitude and frequency. Synaptic spike-rate-dependent plasticity (SRDP) and even Ebbinghaus forgetting behavior, characteristic of learning and memory in the brain, can be emulated as a result. Conductance can also be changed according to the time difference between designed identical voltage pulse waveforms, applied to top and bottom contact electrodes, in a way that can mimic both Hebbian and anti-Hebbian spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP) in synapses. While such features have been seen in, and developed for, other kinds of memristors, few have previously been realized through the manipulation of conducting ferroelectric domain walls.
Original languageEnglish
Article number222902
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2022


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