Most antiferroelectric ceramics are modified from the prototype PbZrO3 by adding Sn and Ti in conjunction with small amount of Nb or La to optimize their properties. These modifiers introduce unique nanoscale structural feature to the ceramics in the form of incommensurate modulations. It was shown previously that the modulation is strongly responsive to a change in chemical composition or temperature. However, its response to an electric field, the driving force in real applications, has not been explored before. In the present work the dynamic evolution of the incommensurate modulation during the electric field-induced antiferroelectric-to-ferroelectric transformation was observed with an in situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM) technique. The results indicate that the incommensurate modulation exists as a transverse Pb-cation displacement wave. The wavelength was found to be quite stable against external electrical stimuli, in sharp contrast to the dramatic change under thermal stimuli reported previously. It is suggested that the appeared incommensurate modulation is an average effect of a mixture of two commensurate modulations. The electric field-induced antiferroelectric-to-ferroelectric transformation proceeds with aligning the Pb-cation displacements, which resembles the process of 90° reorientation and 180° reversal in normal ferroelectrics.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/xiaoli_tan/19/