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Pressure-induced reversal between thermal contraction and expansion in ferroelectric PbTiO3

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Materials with zero/near zero thermal expansion coefficients are technologically important for applications in thermal management and engineering. To date, this class of materials can only be produced by chemical routes, either by changing chemical compositions or by composting materials with positive and negative thermal expansion. Here, we report for the first time a physical route to achieve near zero thermal expansion through application of pressure. In the stability field of tetragonal PbTiO3 we observed pressure-induced reversals between thermal contraction and expansion between ambient pressure and 0.9 GPa. This hybrid behavior leads to a mathematically infinite number of crossover points in the pressure-volume-temperature space and near-zero thermal expansion coefficients comparable to or even smaller than those attained by chemical routes. The observed pressures for this unusual phenomenon are within a small range of 0.1-0.9 GPa, potentially feasible for designing stress-engineered materials, such as thin films and nano-crystals, for thermal management applications.

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