Multidimensional dynamic piezoresponse measurements: Unraveling local relaxation behavior in relaxor-ferroelectrics via big data
Compositional and charge disorder in ferroelectric relaxors lies at the heart of the unusual properties of these systems, such as aging and non-ergodicity, polarization rotations, and a host of temperature and field-driven phase transitions. However, much information about the field-dynamics of the polarization in the prototypical ferroelectric relaxor (1−x)Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)O3-xPbTiO3 (PMN-xPT) remains unprobed at the mesoscopic level. Here, we use a piezoresponse force microscopy-based dynamic multimodal relaxation spectroscopy technique, enabling the study of ferroelectric switching and polarization relaxation at mesoscopic length scales, and carry out measurements on a PMN-0.28PT sample with minimal polishing. Results indicate that beyond a threshold DC bias the average relaxation increases as the system attempts to relax to the previous state. Phenomenological fitting reveals the presence of mesoscale heterogeneity in relaxation amplitudes and clearly suggests the presence of two distinct amplitudes. Independent component analysis reveals the presence of a disorder component of the relaxation, which is found to be strongly anti-correlated with the maximum piezoresponse at that location, suggesting smaller disorder effects where the polarization reversal is large and vice versa. The disorder in the relaxation amplitudes is postulated to arise from rhombohedral and field-induced tetragonal phase in the crystal, with each phase associated with its own relaxation amplitude. These studies highlight the crucial importance of the mixture of ferroelectric phases in the compositions in proximity of the morphotropic phase boundary in governing the local response and further highlight the ability of PFM voltage and time spectroscopies, in conjunction with big-data multivariate analyses, to locally map disorder and correlate it with parameters governing the dynamic behavior.