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Probing Metastable Domain Dynamics via Automated Experimentation in Piezoresponse Force Microscopy


The dynamics of complex topological defects in ferroelectric materials is explored using automated experimentation in piezoresponse force microscopy. Specifically, a complex trigger system (i.e., "FerroBot") is employed to study metastable domain-wall dynamics in Pb0.6Sr0.4TiO3 thin films. Several regimes of superdomain wall dynamics have been identified, including smooth domain-wall motion and significant reconfiguration of the domain structures. We have further demonstrated that microscopic mechanisms of the domain-wall dynamics can be identified; i.e., domain-wall bending can be separated from irreversible domain reconfiguration regimes. In conjunction, phase-field modeling was used to corroborate the observed mechanisms. As such, the observed superdomain dynamics can provide a model system for classical ferroelectric dynamics, much like how colloidal crystals provide a model system for atomic and molecular systems.

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