HS-SPM Mapping of Ferroelectric Domain Dynamics with Combined Nanoscale and Nanosecond Resolution

Date of Completion

January 2011


Engineering, Materials Science




The unique properties of ferroelectric materials have been applied for a wide variety of device applications. In particular, properties such as spontaneous polarization and domain structure hysteresis at room temperature have rendered its application in nonvolatile memory devices such as FeRAMs. Along with the ever-present drive for smaller memory devices is the demand that they have increased operating speeds, longer retention times, lower power requirements and better overall reliability. It is therefore pertinent that further investigation of the dynamics, kinetics and mechanisms involved with ferroelectric domain polarization reversal at nanoscale lengths and temporal durations be conducted to optimize future ferroelectric based nonvolatile memory devices. ^ Accordingly High Speed Piezoforce Microscopy (HSPFM) will be employed to directly investigate and observe the dynamic nucleation and growth progression of ferroelectric domain polarization reversal processes in thin epitaxial deposited PZT films. The capabilities of HSPFM will allow for in-situ direct observation of nascent dynamic domain polarization reversal events with nanoscale resolution. Correlations and characterization of the thin ferroelectric film samples will be made based on the observed polarization reversal dynamics and switching mechanism with respect to their varying strain states, compositions, and/or orientations. ^ Electrical pulsing schemes will also be employed to enhance the HSPFM procedure to achieve nanoscale temporal resolution of nascent domain nucleation and growth events. A unique pulsing approach is also proposed, and tested, to improve power consumption during switching. ^ Finally, artificial defects will be introduced into the PZT thin film by fabricating arrays of indentations with different shapes and loads. These controlled indents will result in the introduction of different stress states of compression and tension into the ferroelectric thin film. It is hypothesized that these different stress states will have a dramatic effect upon the polarization reversal process, domain nucleation and growth dynamics, as well as the device's overall performance. ^ It is the aim of the research presented in this dissertation to leverage the superior lateral and temporal resolution of the HSPFM technique to observe the influence that a variety of different variables have upon polarization reversal and dynamic ferroelectric domain behavior in attempt to propose conventions in which such variables can be employed for the development of high functioning and overall better operating ferroelectric based devices. ^