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      Elastic Properties and Enhanced Piezoelectric Response at Morphotropic Phase Boundaries

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          The search for improved piezoelectric materials is based on the morphotropic phase boundaries (MPB) between ferroelectric phases with different crystal symmetry and available directions for the spontaneous polarization. Such regions of the composition x T phase diagrams provide the conditions for minimal anisotropy with respect to the direction of the polarization, so that the polarization can easily rotate maintaining a substantial magnitude, while the near verticality of the T MPB x boundary extends the temperature range of the resulting enhanced piezoelectricity. Another consequence of the quasi-isotropy of the free energy is a reduction of the domain walls energies, with consequent formation of domain structures down to nanoscale. Disentangling the extrinsic and intrinsic contributions to the piezoelectricity in such conditions requires a high level of sophistication from the techniques and analyses for studying the structural, ferroelectric and dielectric properties. The elastic characterization is extremely useful in clarifying the phenomenology and mechanisms related to ferroelectric MPBs. The relationship between dielectric, elastic and piezoelectric responses is introduced in terms of relaxation of defects with electric dipole and elastic quadrupole, and extended to the response near phase transitions in the framework of the Landau theory. An account is provided of the anelastic experiments, from torsional pendulum to Brillouin scattering, that provided new important information on ferroelectric MPBs, including PZT, PMN-PT, NBT-BT, BCTZ, and KNN-based systems.

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          Polarization rotation mechanism for ultrahigh electromechanical response in single-crystal piezoelectrics

          Piezoelectric materials, which convert mechanical to electrical energy (and vice versa), are crucial in medical imaging, telecommunication and ultrasonic devices. A new generation of single-crystal materials, such as Pb(Zn1/3Nb2/3)O3-PbTiO3 (PZN-PT) and Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)O3-PbTiO3 (PMN-PT), exhibit a piezoelectric effect that is ten times larger than conventional ceramics, and may revolutionize these applications. However, the mechanism underlying the ultrahigh performance of these new materials-and consequently the possibilities for further improvements-are not at present clear. Here we report a first-principles study of the ferroelectric perovskite, BaTiO3, which is similar to single-crystal PZN-PT but is a simpler system to analyse. We show that a large piezoelectric response can be driven by polarization rotation induced by an external electric field. Our computations suggest how to design materials with better performance, and may stimulate further interest in the fundamental theory of dielectric systems in finite electric fields.
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            Perspective on the Development of Lead-free Piezoceramics

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              Ferroelectric, dielectric and piezoelectric properties of ferroelectric thin films and ceramics


                Author and article information

                Role: Academic Editor
                Materials (Basel)
                Materials (Basel)
                02 December 2015
                December 2015
                : 8
                : 12
                : 8195-8245
                CNR-ISC, Istituto dei Sistemi Complessi, Area della Ricerca di Roma-Tor Vergata, Via del Fosso del Cavaliere 100, Roma I-00133, Italy; francesco.cordero@ ; Tel.: +39-06-4993-4114; Fax: +39-06-4993-4076
                © 2015 by the author.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons by Attribution (CC-BY) license (



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