180° Ferroelectric Stripe Nanodomains in BiFeO3 Thin Films

Zuhuang Chen, Jian Liu, Yajun Qi, Deyang Chen, Shang Lin Hsu, Anoop R. Damodaran, Xiaoqing He, Alpha T. N'Diaye, Angus Rockett, Lane W. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is growing evidence that domain walls in ferroics can possess emergent properties that are absent in the bulk. For example, 180° ferroelectric domain walls in the ferroelectric-antiferromagnetic BiFeO3 are particularly interesting because they have been predicted to possess a range of intriguing behaviors, including electronic conduction and enhanced magnetization. To date, however, ordered arrays of such domain structures have not been reported. Here, we report the observation of 180° stripe nanodomains in (110)-oriented BiFeO3 thin films grown on orthorhombic GdScO3 (010)O substrates and their impact on exchange coupling to metallic ferromagnets. Nanoscale ferroelectric 180° stripe domains with {112¯} domain walls were observed in films <32 nm thick. With increasing film thickness, we observed a domain structure crossover from the depolarization field-driven 180° stripe nanodomains to 71° ferroelastic domains determined by the elastic energy. These 180° domain walls (which are typically cylindrical or meandering in nature due to a lack of strong anisotropy associated with the energy of such walls) are found to be highly ordered. Additional studies of Co0.9Fe0.1/BiFeO3 heterostructures reveal exchange bias and exchange enhancement in heterostructures based on BiFeO3 with 180° domain walls and an absence of exchange bias in heterostructures based on BiFeO3 with 71° domain walls; suggesting that the 180° domain walls could be the possible source for pinned uncompensated spins that give rise to exchange bias. This is further confirmed by X-ray circular magnetic dichroism studies, which demonstrate that films with predominantly 180° domain walls have larger magnetization than those with primarily 71° domain walls. Our results could be useful to extract the structure of domain walls and to explore domain wall functionalities in BiFeO3.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6506-6513
Number of pages8
JournalNano letters
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 14 2015


  • BiFeO
  • domain walls
  • exchange bias
  • ferroelectric
  • multiferroic
  • strain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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