Charged domain walls (DWs) in ferroelectric materials are an area of intense research. Microscale strain has been identified as a method of inducing arrays of twin walls to meet at right angles, forming needlepoint domains which exhibit novel material properties. Atomic scale characterisation of the features exhibiting these exciting behaviours was inaccessible with the piezoresponse force microscopy resolution of previous work. Here we use aberration corrected scanning transmission electron mi-croscopy to observe short, stepped, highly charged DWs at the tip of the needle points in ferroelectric PbTiO3 . Reverse Ti4+ shift polarisation mapping confirms the head-to-head polarisation in adjacent domains. Strain mapping reveals large deviations from the bulk and a wider DW with a high Pb2+ vacancy concentration. The extra screening charge is found to stabilise the DW perpendicular to the opposing polarisation vectors and thus constitutes the most highly charged DW possible in PbTiO3. This feature at the needle point junction is a 5nm x 2nm channel running through the sample and is likely to have useful conducting properties. We envisage that similar junctions can be formed in other ferroelastic materials and yield exciting phenomena for future research.
|Publication status||Accepted - 20 Oct 2020|