Imprinting oxides Dislocations can be problematic for the properties of functional oxides and are often avoided as a result. Höfling et al. found that introducing a network of dislocations to barium titanate actually enhanced the dielectric and piezoelectric properties. The authors introduced the dislocation network with uniaxial compression, which forced the material to have a domain structure that enhanced the piezoelectric coefficient by a factor of 19. This strategy should be a useful tool for optimizing properties of other functional oxides. Science, abe3810, this issue p. 961 Uniaxial compression of barium titanate introduces a dislocation network that greatly enhances the piezoelectricity. Defects are essential to engineering the properties of functional materials ranging from semiconductors and superconductors to ferroics. Whereas point defects have been widely exploited, dislocations are commonly viewed as problematic for functional materials and not as a microstructural tool. We developed a method for mechanically imprinting dislocation networks that favorably skew the domain structure in bulk ferroelectrics and thereby tame the large switching polarization and make it available for functional harvesting. The resulting microstructure yields a strong mechanical restoring force to revert electric field–induced domain wall displacement on the macroscopic level and high pinning force on the local level. This induces a giant increase of the dielectric and electromechanical response at intermediate electric fields in barium titanate [electric field–dependent permittivity (ε33) ≈ 5800 and large-signal piezoelectric coefficient (d33*) ≈ 1890 picometers/volt]. Dislocation-based anisotropy delivers a different suite of tools with which to tailor functional materials.
Marion Höfling, Xiandong Zhou, L. Riemer