Mapping Strain Modulated Electronic Structure Perturbations in Mixed Phase Bismuth Ferrite Thin Films

Jeffery Aguiar, P. S. Sankara Rama Krishnan, Q. Ramasse, D. Kepaptsoglou, W.-I. Liang, Y.-H. Chu, N. Browning, P. Munroe, V. Nagarajan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Strain engineering of epitaxial ferroelectrics has emerged as a powerful method to tailor the electromechanical response of these materials, although the effect of strain at the atomic scale and the interplay between lattice displacements and electronic structure changes are not yet fully understood. Here, using a combination of scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) and density functional theory (DFT), we systematically probe the role of epitaxial strain in mixed phase bismuth ferrite thin films. Electron energy loss O K and Fe L2,3 edge spectra acquired across the rhombohedral (R)-tetragonal (T) phase boundary reveal progressive, and systematic, changes in electronic structure going from one phase to the other. The comparison of the acquired spectra with theoretical simulations using DFT suggests a breakage in the structural symmetry across the boundary due to the simultaneous presence of increasing epitaxial strain and off-axial symmetry in the T phase. This implies that the imposed epitaxial strain plays a significant role in not only changing the crystal-field geometry, but also the bonding environment surrounding the central iron cation at the interface thus providing new insights and a possible link to understand how the imposed strain could perturb magnetic ordering in the T phase BFO.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1835-1845
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Materials Chemistry C
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2015

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-63997


  • density functional theory
  • electromechanical response
  • epitaxial strain
  • scanning transmission electron microscopy
  • strain engineering


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