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Issue 40, 2017
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Self-ordering of nontrivial topological polarization structures in nanoporous ferroelectrics

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Topological field structures, such as skyrmions, merons, and vortices, are important features found in ordered systems with spontaneously broken symmetry. A plethora of topological field structures have been discovered in magnetic and ordered soft matter systems due to the presence of inherent chiral interactions, and this has provided a fruitful platform for unearthing additional groundbreaking functionalities. However, despite being one of the most important classes of ordered systems, ferroelectrics scarcely form topological polarization structures due to their lack of intrinsic chiral interactions. In the present study, we demonstrate using multiphysics phase-field modelling based on the Ginzburg–Landau theory that a rich assortment of nontrivial topological polarization structures, including hedgehogs, antivortices, multidirectional vortices, and vortex arrays, can be spontaneously formed in three-dimensional nanoporous ferroelectric structures. We realize that confining ferroelectrics to trivial geometries that are incompatible with the orientation symmetry may impose extrinsic frustration to the polarization field through the enhancement of depolarization fields at free porous surfaces. This frustration gives rise to symmetry breaking, resulting in the formation of nontrivial topological polarization structures as the ground state. We further topologically characterize the local accommodation of polarization structures by viewing them in a new perspective, in which polarization ordering can be mapped on the order parameter space, according to the topological theory of defects and homotopy theory. The results indicate that the nanoporous structures contain composite topological objects composed of two or more elementary topological polarization structures. The present study therefore offers a playground for exploring novel physical phenomena in ferroelectric systems as well as a novel nanoelectronics characterization platform for future topology-based nanotechnologies.

Graphical abstract: Self-ordering of nontrivial topological polarization structures in nanoporous ferroelectrics

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Publication details

The article was received on 28 Jun 2017, accepted on 30 Sep 2017 and first published on 03 Oct 2017

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7NR04661H
Citation: Nanoscale, 2017,9, 15525-15533

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    Self-ordering of nontrivial topological polarization structures in nanoporous ferroelectrics

    L. Van Lich, T. Shimada, J. Wang and T. Kitamura, Nanoscale, 2017, 9, 15525
    DOI: 10.1039/C7NR04661H

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