Letter | Published:

Negative capacitance in multidomain ferroelectric superlattices

Nature volume 534, pages 524528 (23 June 2016) | Download Citation

Abstract

The stability of spontaneous electrical polarization in ferroelectrics is fundamental to many of their current applications, which range from the simple electric cigarette lighter to non-volatile random access memories1. Research on nanoscale ferroelectrics reveals that their behaviour is profoundly different from that in bulk ferroelectrics, which could lead to new phenomena with potential for future devices2,3,4. As ferroelectrics become thinner, maintaining a stable polarization becomes increasingly challenging. On the other hand, intentionally destabilizing this polarization can cause the effective electric permittivity of a ferroelectric to become negative5, enabling it to behave as a negative capacitance when integrated in a heterostructure. Negative capacitance has been proposed as a way of overcoming fundamental limitations on the power consumption of field-effect transistors6. However, experimental demonstrations of this phenomenon remain contentious7. The prevalent interpretations based on homogeneous polarization models are difficult to reconcile with the expected strong tendency for domain formation8,9, but the effect of domains on negative capacitance has received little attention5,10,11,12. Here we report negative capacitance in a model system of multidomain ferroelectric–dielectric superlattices across a wide range of temperatures, in both the ferroelectric and paraelectric phases. Using a phenomenological model, we show that domain-wall motion not only gives rise to negative permittivity, but can also enhance, rather than limit, its temperature range. Our first-principles-based atomistic simulations provide detailed microscopic insight into the origin of this phenomenon, identifying the dominant contribution of near-interface layers and paving the way for its future exploitation.

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledge financial support from the EPSRC (Grant No. EP/M007073/1; P.Z. and M.H.), the A. G. Leventis Foundation (M.H.); FNR Luxembourg (Grant No. FNR/P12/4853155/Kreisel; J.I.), MINECO-Spain (Grant No. MAT2013-40581-P; J.I. and J.C.W.), the Swiss National Science Foundation Division II (J.-M.T. and S.F.-P.), the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC (Grant No. 319286 (Q-MAC); J.-M.T. and S.F.-P.), and the EU-FP7-ITN project NOTEDEV (Grant No. 607521; I.L.).

Author information

Author notes

    • Pavlo Zubko
    •  & Jacek C. Wojdeł

    These authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

  1. London Centre for Nanotechnology and Department of Physics and Astronomy, University College London, 17–19 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0HA, UK

    • Pavlo Zubko
    •  & Marios Hadjimichael
  2. Institut de Ciència de Materials de Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC), Campus UAB, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain

    • Jacek C. Wojdeł
    •  & Jorge Íñiguez
  3. Department of Quantum Matter Physics, University of Geneva, CH-1211 Geneva, Switzerland

    • Stéphanie Fernandez-Pena
    •  & Jean-Marc Triscone
  4. Laboratory of Condensed Matter Physics, University of Picardie, Amiens 80000, France

    • Anaïs Sené
    •  & Igor Luk’yanchuk
  5. L. D. Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics, Moscow, Russia

    • Igor Luk’yanchuk
  6. Materials Research and Technology Department, Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), 5 avenue des Hauts-Fourneaux, L-4362 Esch/Alzette, Luxemburg

    • Jorge Íñiguez

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Contributions

P.Z., M.H., S.F.-P. and J.-M.T. performed and analysed the experiments. A.S. and I.L. developed the phenomenological theory. J.C.W. and J.I. developed the atomistic models and performed the simulations.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Pavlo Zubko or Jorge Íñiguez.

Extended data

Supplementary information

Videos

  1. 1.

    High temperature fluctuations of the domain structure

    Local dipoles (z component) at the mid plane of the PbTiO3 layer in our (8,2) simulated superlattice. The video is constructed from snapshots of a Monte Carlo simulation at 400 K.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nature17659

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