Research Papers in Physics and Astronomy

 

Date of this Version

2000

Comments

Published in Physics - Uspekhi 43 (3) 243 - 257 (2000). Copyright © 2000 Uspekhi Fizicheskikh Nauk, Russian Academy of Sciences. Used by permission.

Abstract

The investigation of the finite-size effect in ferroelectric crystals and films has been limited by the experimental conditions. The smallest demonstrated ferroelectric crystals had a diameter of ~ 200 A and the thinnest ferroelectric films were ~ 200 A thick, macroscopic sizes on an atomic scale. Langmuir - Blodgett deposition of films one monolayer at a time has produced high quality ferroelectric films as thin as 10 A, made from polyvinylidene fluoride and its copolymers. These ultrathin films permitted the ultimate investigation of finite-size effects on the atomic thickness scale. Langmuir ± Blodgett films also revealed the fundamental two-dimensional character of ferroelectricity in these materials by demonstrating that there is no so-called critical thickness; films as thin as two monolayers (1 nm) are ferroelectric, with a transition temperature near that of the bulk material. The films exhibit all the main properties of ferroelectricity with a first-order ferroelectric - paraelectric phase transition: polarization hysteresis (switching); the jump in spontaneous polarization at the phase transition temperature; thermal hysteresis in the polarization; the increase in the transition temperature with applied field; double hysteresis above the phase transition temperature; and the existence of the ferroelectric critical point. The films also exhibit a new phase transition associated with the two- dimensional layers.

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