Pyroelectric and piezoelectric scanning microscopy applied to reveal the bipolar state of 4-iodo-4 '-nitrobiphenyl (INBP)

Matthias Burgener*, Gael Labat, Michel Bonin, Alessio Morelli, Juerg Hulliger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Two recent scanning probe techniques were applied to investigate the bipolar twin state of 4-iodo-4'-nitrobiphenyl (INBP) crystals. Solution grown crystals of INBP show typically a morphology which does not express that of a mono-domain polar structure (Fdd2, mm2). From previous X-ray diffraction a twinning volume ratio of similar to 70 : 30 is now explained by two unipolar domains (Flack parameter: 0.075(29)) of opposite orientation of the molecular dipoles, joined by a transition zone showing a width of similar to 140 mm. Scanning pyroelectric microscopy (SPEM) demonstrates a continuous transition of the polarization P from +P into -P across the zone. Application of piezoelectric force microscopy (PFM) confirms unipolar alignment of INBP molecules down to a resolution of similar to 20 nm. A previously proposed real structure for INBP crystals built from lamellae with antiparallel alignment is thus rejected. Anomalous X-ray scattering was used to determine the absolute molecular orientation in the two domains. End faces of the polar axis 2 are thus made up by NO2 groups. Using a previously determined negative pyroelectric coefficient pc leads to a confirmation also by a SPEM analysis. Calculated values for functional group interactions (D...A), (A...A), (D...D) and the stochastic theory of polarity formation allow us to predict that NO2 groups should terminate corresponding faces. Following the present analysis, INBP may represent a first example undergoing dipole reversal upon growth to end up in a bipolar state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7652-7656
Number of pages5
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2013




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