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Reversible optical control of macroscopic polarization in ferroelectrics


The optical control of ferroic properties is a subject of fascination for the scientific community, because it involves the establishment of new paradigms for technology1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. Domains and domain walls are known to have a great impact on the properties of ferroic materials1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24. Progress is currently being made in understanding the behaviour of the ferroelectric domain wall, especially regarding its dynamic control10,11,12,17,19. New research is being conducted to find effective methodologies capable of modulating ferroelectric domain motion for future electronics. However, the practical use of ferroelectric domain wall motion should be both stable and reversible (rewritable) and, in particular, be able to produce a macroscopic response that can be monitored easily12,17. Here, we show that it is possible to achieve a reversible optical change of ferroelectric domains configuration. This effect leads to the tuning of macroscopic polarization and its related properties by means of polarized light, a non-contact external control. Although this is only the first step, it nevertheless constitutes the most crucial one in the long and complex process of developing the next generation of photo-stimulated ferroelectric devices.

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Fig. 1: Unequivocal identification of ferroelectric domains structure changes at the macroscopic scale.
Fig. 2: Reversible optically induced ferroelectric domain structure change.
Fig. 3: Evidence of the reversible domains structure change through monitoring the macroscopic dielectric response.


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This work is supported by the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness (MINECO, Spanish Government) project MAT2013-48009-C4-P and by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) under project NANOMIND CSIC 201560E068. The authors acknowledge ESRF, The European Synchrotron, CSIC, MINECO and the SpLine CRG BM25 beamline staff for provision of synchrotron radiation and assistance during XRD measurements. F.R.-M. acknowledges MINECO for a ‘Ramon y Cajal’ contract (RyC-2015-18626), co-financed by the European Social Fund.

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Authors and Affiliations



D.A.O. and J.E.G. designed and performed the experiments, assisted by F.R.-M., A.D.C. and G.R.C. M.A.G. carried out the optical configuration of the experiments. Data processing was carried out by D.A.O. and F.R.-M. All authors contributed to the discussion of the results. The manuscript was written by J.E.G. and F.R.-M., with input from D.A.O., M.A.G. and J.F.F. The work was supervised by J.E.G. and J.F.F.

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Correspondence to Fernando Rubio-Marcos or José E. García.

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Supplementary Results; Supplementary Figures 1–6; Supplementary References.

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Rubio-Marcos, F., Ochoa, D.A., Del Campo, A. et al. Reversible optical control of macroscopic polarization in ferroelectrics. Nature Photon 12, 29–32 (2018).

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