Abstract: A physical understanding of the nature of spatially modulated phases (SMPs) in rare-earth-doped antiferrodistortive (AFD) multiferroics and how they behave close to surfaces and interfaces is lacking. Here the emergence of the antiferroelectric (AFE), ferroelectric (FE), or ferrielectric (AFE-FE) spatial modulation in the vicinity of the morphotropic phase transition in LaxBi1xFeO3 (x0.2) is explored on the atomic level using high-resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy (HRSTEM). The suppression, or “melting,” of the AFE-type SMP in the vicinity of the AFD twin wall/surface junction is revealed by HRSTEM in La0.22Bi0.78FeO3 films and explained by the hybrid approach combining Landau-Ginzburg-Devonshire (LGD) phenomenology and the semimicroscopic four-sublattice model (FSM). The LGD-FSM approach reduces the problem of AFE (or AFE-FE) SMP emergence and stability to the thermodynamic analysis of the free-energy functional with AFE, FE, and AFD long-range order parameters and two master parameters: the FE-AFE coupling strength between four neighboring A sites and the nonstoichiometry factor, which are proportional to the variations of La concentration in LaxBi1xFeO3 films. We establish that the surface-induced melting of SMPs and the associated broadening of AFE AFD domain walls minimize the film free energy under certain conditions imposed on the master parameters and gradient energy below the critical value. The observed behavior provides insight into the origin of SMPs in AFD multiferroics.


Title: Melting of spatially modulated phases at domain wall/surface junctions in antiferrodistortive multiferroics

Authors: Anna N. Morozovska, Eugene A. Eliseev, Deyang Chen, Vladislav Shvetz, Christopher T. Nelson, Sergei V. Kalinin

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevB.102.075426  Physical Review B (2020) 102, 075426

Preprint deposited in the repository: http://arxiv.org/abs/1910.05730