Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Local and Average Structures in Ferroelectrics under Perturbing Fields
by Usher, Tedi-Marie, Ph.D., North Carolina State University, 2016, 256; 10585504
Abstract (Summary)

Ferroelectric and dielectric ceramics are used in a multitude of applications including sonar, micro-positioning, actuators, transducers, and capacitors. The most widely used compositions are lead (Pb)-based, however there is an ongoing effort to reduce lead-based materials in consumer applications. Many lead-free compositions are under investigation; some are already in production and others have been identified as suitable for certain applications. For any such material system, there is a need to thoroughly characterize the structure in order to develop robust structure-property relationships, particularly during in situ application of different stimuli (e.g. electric field and mechanical stress).

This work investigates two lead-free material systems of interest, (1-x)Na1/2Bi1/2TiO3 – (x)BaTiO3 (NBT-xBT) and (1-x)BaTiO3 – (x)Bi(Zn1/2Ti1/2)O3 (BT-xBZT), as well as the constituent compounds Na1/2Bi1/2TiO3 and BaTiO3. Both systems exhibit compositional boundaries between unique phases exhibiting different functional properties. Advanced scattering techniques are used to characterize the atomic structures and how they change during in situ application of different stimuli. The long-range, average structures are probed using high-resolution X-ray diffraction (HRXRD) and neutron diffraction (ND) and local scale structures are probed using X-ray or neutron total scattering, which are converted to pair distribution functions (PDFs).

First, two in situ ND experiments which investigate structural changes to NBT-xBT in response to uniaxial stresses and electric fields are presented. In response to stresses, different crystallographic directions strain differently. The elastic anisotropy, (i.e., the orientation-dependence of elastic stiffness) for the studied compositions is characterized. A general inverse relationship between elastic anisotropy and piezoelectric anisotropy is demonstrated for three common ferroelectric point groups. In response to electric fields, different crystallographic directions respond by either domain reorientation or lattice strain, as governed by the material’s symmetry. The composition at the phase boundary responds at a lower field and undergoes a phase transition.

Next, the PDF method is described and then applied to a structural study of BT-xBZT in combination with HRXRD and ND studies. For BZT >9%, the structure is pseudocubic at the long-range with short-range tetragonal distortions. This structural length-scale dependence is characterized with a box-car fitting method and suggests that with sufficient BZT content, local tetragonal distortions are disrupted at length scales > 40 Å. By combining long- and short-range studies, structural variations from the sub-nm to long-range are characterized and enhance the understanding of this and similar material systems.

In the final chapters, the local-scale responses of ferroelectric and dielectric materials to electric fields are investigated by PDFs. The novel methodology of measuring X-ray total scattering during in situ application of electric fields is presented and results are shown for piezoelectric (BT), relaxor-ferroelectric (NBT), and dielectric materials (SrTiO3 and HfO2), as well as for NBT-xBT. Local-scale cation reorientation in NBT is evidenced and corresponds to an electric-field-induced phase transition. The ability to quantify local-scale atomic rearrangements during field application is unique to in situ PDF studies; it is not possible through in situ diffraction methods like those presented earlier. This method is extended to neutron-PDFs and ex situ results for NBT are shown. In order to interpret the local scale-changes observed in the in situ PDF studies, the local structures of a series of models with different real, physical effects (strains, polarization, changes in thermal motion, etc) are analyzed and characterized. Finally, the samples used are characterized in terms of grain size/appearance and piezoelectric and ferroelectric properties.

In summary, this research demonstrates the use of detailed and in situ structural studies that contribute new knowledge to structure-property relationships for several ferroelectric and dielectric material systems. Additionally, the novel technique of in situ PDFs with electric fields is evidenced to provide unique information on atomic rearrangements caused by in situ stimuli.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Jones, Jacob L.
School: North Carolina State University
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-B 78/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Condensed matter physics, Materials science
Keywords: Bismuth titanate, Dielectrics, Lead-free oxides, Pair distribution functions
Publication Number: 10585504
ISBN: 978-1-369-64180-6
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