Ferroelectrics are now being used as non-volatile memories, infrared detectors, phased array radar and optical switches. Although the development of commercial ferroelectric devices has advanced in recent years, we still do not have a clear understanding of the basic physics underpinning the behavior of actual ferroelectric devices. Trapped charge and oxygen vacancies are believed to strongly influence domain motion. In order to study these issues, we have designed an in situ TEM holder that can subject ferroelectric crystals to voltage, heat and UV irradiation. Preliminary results on BaTiO3 have been presented in previous reports.
In this study, bulk KNbO3 crystals were mechanically polished and thinned in hot orthophosphoric acid. The resulting thin flakes were attached to copper rings with conductive carbon paint, and electrical wires were glued to the copper rings which act as electrodes. The sample was placed in the cradle of the in situ TEM holder and examined in a Hitachi H9000NAR TEM.