Polycrystalline ferroelectrics constitute the basis of many advanced technologies, including sensors and actuators. Their intricate domain patterns, and switching, drive the macroscopic electrical and mechanical properties of the material, where the domain switching behaviour is largely influenced by the grain-grain interaction of the domain walls. Domain wall continuity across grain boundaries is speculated to affect the domain wall – grain boundary interaction, although the true impact of this phenomenon on the ferroelectric properties, and the conditions under which continuity occurs, are not yet well understood. Whilst there are some theoretical reports, the link to experimental evidence is limited, greatly hindering the applicability and fundamental understanding of current polycrystalline based devices. In this work, we close this gap by studying several grain junctions in free-standing BaTiO3 thin films using microscopy techniques and rationalising the domain configurations with reference to martensite theory. A pleasing agreement of minimal strain and polarisation mismatch for a pair of domain variants were found in cases where domain wall continuity across grain boundaries was observed, confirming that domain continuity is related to the compatibility conditions at the grain boundary. Following this experimental validation, the mismatches for various combinations of Euler angles in bi-grain junctions were theoretically explored, offering valuable insights into specific cases where domain continuity can be expected. These results offer an advancement in the understanding of grain-grain-domain interactions and provides a template for the prediction and control of domain wall continuity in polycrystalline ferroelectrics, appealing to those working in polycrystal design and domain engineering.
- Domain compatibility
- Electron microscopy