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Electrostrain in excess of 1% in polycrystalline piezoelectrics


Piezoelectric actuators transform electrical energy into mechanical energy, and because of their compactness, quick response time and accurate displacement, they are sought after in many applications. Polycrystalline piezoelectric ceramics are technologically more appealing than single crystals due to their simpler and less expensive processing, but have yet to display electrostrain values that exceed 1%. Here we report a material design strategy wherein the efficient switching of ferroelectric–ferroelastic domains by an electric field is exploited to achieve a high electrostrain value of 1.3% in a pseudo-ternary ferroelectric alloy system, BiFeO3–PbTiO3–LaFeO3. Detailed structural investigations reveal that this electrostrain is associated with a combination of several factors: a large spontaneous lattice strain of the piezoelectric phase, domain miniaturization, a low-symmetry ferroelectric phase and a very large reverse switching of the non-180° domains. This insight for the design of a new class of polycrystalline piezoceramics with high electrostrains may be useful to develop alternatives to costly single-crystal actuators.

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Fig. 1: Structure–property correlation.
Fig. 2: Structural study of poled and unpoled BF-PT45:La(y = 0.30).
Fig. 3: HAADFSTEM images of poled and unpoled BF-PT45:La(y = 0.30).
Fig. 4: Domain switching with an electric field.
Fig. 5: Comparison with PT-BNZ.
Fig. 6: Structure–property correlation in 0.60Bi1–yLayFeO3–0.40PbTiO3.

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R.R. acknowledges the Special Grant provided by IISc Bangalore in 2013 to set-up the facility to carry out high-resolution XRPD in situ with an electric field (Grant. no. AD/PG/RR/MET-08). R.R. also acknowledges the Nano mission Program of the Department of Science and Technology (Grant no. SR/NM/NS-1010/2015 (G)), the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (Grant no. 03 (1347)/16/EMR-II) and the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) of the Ministry of Science and Technology (Grant no. EMR/2016/001457), Government of India for financial support. R.P. acknowledges SERB for the award of a National Post Doctoral Fellowship. P.N. and B.D. acknowledge a public grant overseen by the French National Research Agency (ANR) as part of the ‘Investissements d’Avenir’ programme (Grant no. ANR-10-LABX-0035, Labex NanoSaclay) and the MATMECA consortium (contract no. ANR-10-EQPX-37). R.R. thanks X. Ren for helpful discussion.

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R.R. conceived the work, participated in planning the experiments and in the interpretations of the data. B.N., J.S.M. and R.P. prepared the specimens and carried out the characterization and data analysis. P.N. and B.D. carried out the HRTEM experiments and analysis. K.Y. did the TEM sample preparation and electron diffraction. A.S. provided the NPD data.

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Correspondence to Rajeev Ranjan.

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Supplementary Figures 1–11, Supplementary Tables 1–4, Supplementary References 1–7

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Narayan, B., Malhotra, J.S., Pandey, R. et al. Electrostrain in excess of 1% in polycrystalline piezoelectrics. Nature Mater 17, 427–431 (2018).

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