Research Papers in Physics and Astronomy


Date of this Version

January 2004


From: Nanoscale Characterization of Ferroelectric Materials: Scanning Probe Microscopy Approach, ed. Mann Alexe and Alexei Gruverman (Berlin & Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, 2004), pp. v–vi. Copyright © 2004 Springer-Verlag. Used by permission.


Among the main trends in our daily society is a drive for smaller, faster, cheaper, smarter computers with ever-increasing memories. To sustain this drive the computer industry is turning to nanotechnology as a source of new processes and functional materials, which can be used in high-performance high-density electronic systems. Researchers and engineers have been focusing on ferroelectric materials for a long time due to their unique combination of physical properties. The ability of ferroelectrics to transform electromagnetic, thermal, and mechanical energy into electrical charge has been used in a number of electronic applications, most recently in nonvolatile computer memories. Classical monographs, such as Ferroelectricity by E. Fatuzzo and W. J. Mertz, served as a comprehensive introduction into the field for several generations of scientists. However, to meet the challenges of the “nano-era,” a solid knowledge of the ferroelectric properties at the nanoscale needs to be acquired. While the science of ferroelectrics from micro- to larger scale is well established, the science of nanoscale ferroelectrics is still terra incognita. The properties of materials at the nanoscale show strong size dependence, which makes it imperative to perform reliable characterization at this size range.

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