Scanning force microscopy (SFM) is becoming a powerful technique with great potential both for imaging and for control of domain structures in ferroelectric materials at the nanometer scale. Application of SFM to visualization of domain structures in ferroelectric thin films is described. Imaging methods of ferroelectric domains are based on the detection of surface charges in the noncontact mode of SFM and on the measurement of the piezoelectric response of a ferroelectric film to an external field applied by the tip in the SFM contact mode. This latter mode can be used for nondestructive evaluation of local ferroelectric and piezoelectric properties and for manipulation of domains of less than 50 nm in diameter. The effect of the film thickness and crystallinity on the imaging resolution is discussed. Scanning force microscopy is shown to be a technique well suited for nanoscale investigation of switching processes and electrical degradation effects in ferroelectric thin films.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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