Letter | Published:

The giant electromechanical response in ferroelectric relaxors as a critical phenomenon

Naturevolume 441pages956959 (2006) | Download Citation

Subjects

Abstract

The direct conversion of electrical energy to mechanical work by a material is relevant to a number of applications. This is illustrated by ferroelectric ‘relaxors’1,2,3,4 such as Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)O3-PbTiO3 (PMN-PT; refs 5, 6): these materials exhibit a giant electromechanical (piezoelectric) response that is finding use in ultrasonic4 and medical applications, as well as in telecommunications. The origins of this effect are, however, still unclear. Here we show that the giant electromechanical response in PMN-PT (and potentially other ferroelectric relaxors) is the manifestation of critical points that define a line in the phase diagram of this system. Specifically, in the electric-field–temperature–composition phase diagram of PMN-PT (the composition being varied by changing the PT concentration), a first-order paraelectric–ferroelectric phase transition terminates in a line of critical points where the piezoelectric coefficient is maximum. Above this line, supercritical evolution is observed. On approaching the critical point, both the energy cost and the electric field necessary to induce ferroelectric polarization rotations decrease significantly, thus explaining the giant electromechanical response of these relaxors.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Cross, I. E. Relaxor ferroelectrics. Ferroelectrics 76, 241–267 (1987)

  2. 2

    Cross, I. E. in Ferroelectric Ceramics (eds Setter, N. & Colla, E. L.) 1–85 (Birkhauser, Berlin, 1993)

  3. 3

    Samara, S. A. The relaxation properties of compositionally disordered ABO3 perovskites. J. Phys Condens. Matter 15, R367–R411 (2003)

  4. 4

    Uchino, K. Piezoelectric Actuators and Ultrasonic Motors (Kluwer Academic, Boston, 1996)

  5. 5

    Colla, V. E., Yushin, N. K. & Viehland, D. Dielectric properties of (PMN)1-x(PT)x single crystals for various electrical and thermal histories. J. Appl. Phys. 83, 3298–3304 (1998)

  6. 6

    Xu, G., Viehland, D., Li, J. F., Gehring, P. M. & Shirane, G. Evidence of decoupled lattice distortions and ferroelectric polarization in the relaxor system PMN-xPT. Phys. Rev. B 68, 2410–2414 (2003)

  7. 7

    Höchli, U. T., Knorr, K. & Loidl, A. Orientational glasses. Adv. Phys. 39, 405–615 (1990)

  8. 8

    Park, S. E. & Shrout, T. R. Ultrahigh strain and piezoelectric behaviour in relaxor based ferroelectric single crystal. J. Appl. Phys. 82, 1804–1811 (2003)

  9. 9

    Fu, H. & Cohen, R. E. Polarization rotation mechanism for ultrahigh electromechanical response in single crystal piezoelectric. Nature 403, 281–283 (2000)

  10. 10

    Li, J. Y., Rogan, R. C., Üstündag, E. & Bhattacharya, K. Domain switching in polycrystalline ferroelectric ceramics. Nature Mater. 41, 776–781 (2005)

  11. 11

    Davis, M., Damjanovic, D. & Setter, N. Electric-field-, temperature-, and stress-induced phase transitions in relaxor ferroelectric single crystals. Phys. Rev. B 73, 014115 (2006)

  12. 12

    Bai, F. et al. X-ray and neutron diffraction investigations of the structural phase transformation sequence under electric field in 0.7Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)-0.3PbTiO3 crystal. J. Appl. Phys. 96, 1620–1627 (2004)

  13. 13

    Yao, H., Ema, K. & Garland, C. W. Nonadiabatic scanning calorimeter. Rev. Sci. Instrum. 69, 172–178 (1998)

  14. 14

    Durand, D., Denoyer, F., Lefur, D., Currat, R. & Bernard, L. Neutron diffraction study of sodium nitrite in an applied electric field. J. Phys. (Paris) Lett. 44, L207–L216 (1983)

  15. 15

    Yao, H., Chan, T. & Garland, C. W. Smectic-C–smectic-I critical point in a liquid crystal mixture: Static and dynamic thermal behavior. Phys. Rev. E 51, 4585–4597 (1995)

  16. 16

    Kutnjak, Z. et al. Critical point for the blue-phase-III—Isotropic phase transition in chiral liquid crystals. Phys. Rev. E 53, 4955–4963 (1996)

  17. 17

    Wu, Z. & Cohen, R. E. Pressure-induced anomalous phase transitions and colossal enhancement of piezoelectricity in PbTiO3 . Phys. Rev. Lett. 95, 037601 (2005)

Download references

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the Slovenian Research Agency.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Jozef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia

    • Z. Kutnjak
    •  & R. Blinc
  2. Institute of Physics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic

    • J. Petzelt

Authors

  1. Search for Z. Kutnjak in:

  2. Search for J. Petzelt in:

  3. Search for R. Blinc in:

Competing interests

Reprints and permissions information is available at npg.nature.com/reprintsandpermissions. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Z. Kutnjak.

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Issue Date

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nature04854

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.