Lead-Free Polycrystalline Ferroelectric Nanowires with Enhanced Curie Temperature

08 Aug 2017

Ferroelectrics are important technological materials with wide-ranging applications in electronics, communication, health, and energy. While lead-based ferroelectrics have remained the predominant mainstay of industry for decades, environmentally friendly lead-free alternatives are limited due to relatively low Curie temperatures (T C) and/or high cost in many cases. Efforts have been made to enhance T C through strain engineering, often involving energy-intensive and expensive fabrication of thin epitaxial films on lattice-mismatched substrates. Here, a relatively simple and scalable sol-gel synthesis route to fabricate polycrystalline (Ba0.85Ca0.15)(Zr0.1Ti0.9)O3 nanowires within porous templates is presented, with an observed enhancement of T C up to ≈300 °C as compared to ≈90 °C in the bulk. By combining experiments and theoretical calculations, this effect is attributed to the volume reduction in the template-grown nanowires that modifies the balance between different structural instabilities. The results offer a cost-effective solution-based approach for strain-tuning in a promising lead-free ferroelectric system, thus widening their current applicability.