Polarization driven conductance variations at charged ferroelectric domain walls†
Conducting domain walls (CDWs) in ferroelectric materials are promising candidates for applications in a manifold of nanoscale, optoelectronic devices. Characterization of their microscopic properties, however, remains challenging due to their small dimension and highly insulating environment. Here, we inspect individual CDWs in single-crystalline LiNbO3 by the combination of photoemission electron microscopy (PEEM) and second harmonic generation (SHG) microscopy. While SHG unveils the overall domain wall inclination angle α, PEEM is sensitive to local conductance variations, both at and away from the domain wall. Thus, the two imaging techniques deliver complementary information over a large field of view. In agreement with earlier theoretical predictions we find that the local conductance is dictated by α and reveal a quantitative connection between them. Our results help to elucidate the electronic structure of CDWs and underline the value of PEEM as a non-contact characterization tool for mapping local conductance variations in highly resistive environments.