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Resolving ferroelectric nanostructures via piezoresponse force microscopy—A numerical investigation
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A numerical approach has been developed to study the spatial resolution of piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM) in resolving ferroelectric nanostructures, capable of analyzing complicated domain patterns with arbitrary three-dimensional heterogeneity. It is found that the spatial resolution of PFM is limited by long range electroelastic interactions, resulting in a nominal domain wall thickness over which piezoresponse varies, even if the probed domain wall is sharp. It is also observed that ferroelectric features smaller than probe tip radius can be resolved, and tilted domain wall tends to show larger nominal domain wall thickness, resulting in poorer lateral PFM resolution than vertical one. Probing ferroelectric structures underneath of the surface by PFM is also demonstrated.
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