Scale-free ferroelectricity induced by flat phonon bands in HfO2

Thursday, September 10, 2020 - 13:31 in Physics & Chemistry

Discovery of robust yet reversibly switchable electric dipoles at reduced dimensions is critical to the advancement of nanoelectronics devices. Energy bands flat in momentum space generate robust localized states that are activated independently of each other. We determined that flat bands exist and induce robust yet independently switchable dipoles that exhibit a distinct ferroelectricity in hafnium dioxide (HfO2). Flat polar phonon bands in HfO2 cause extreme localization of electric dipoles within its irreducible half-unit cell widths (~3 angstroms). Contrary to conventional ferroelectrics with spread dipoles, those intrinsically localized dipoles are stable against extrinsic effects such as domain walls, surface exposure, and even miniaturization down to the angstrom scale. Moreover, the subnanometer-scale dipoles are individually switchable without creating any domain-wall energy cost. This offers unexpected opportunities for ultimately dense unit cell–by–unit cell ferroelectric switching devices that are directly integrable into silicon technology.

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