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Towards reversible control of domain wall conduction in Pb(Zr0.2Ti0.8)O3 thin films

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Control over the localised conductance recently observed at ferroelectric domain walls is key for their integration into potential nanoelectronics devices. Using a combination of piezoresponse force microscopy and local conductance mapping, we demonstrate switching between conducting and insulating behavior at 180° domain walls in epitaxial Pb(Zr0.2Ti0.8)O3 thin films subjected to ultrahigh vacuum thermal annealing or exposed to ambient conditions, respectively. The reversibility of this behavior is demonstrated in repeated annealing-exposure cycles. To explain these observations, we propose a mechanism based on changes in electrostatic and chemical boundary conditions through oxygen vacancy redistribution and the removal of surface adsorbates.

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