Nature, Vol.560, No.7720, 622-+, 2018
Resonant domain-wall-enhanced tunable microwave ferroelectrics
Ordering of ferroelectric polarization(1) and its trajectory in response to an electric field(2) are essential for the operation of non-volatile memories(3), transducers(4) and electro-optic devices(5). However, for voltage control of capacitance and frequency agility in telecommunication devices, domain walls have long been thought to be a hindrance because they lead to high dielectric loss and hysteresis in the device response to an applied electric field(6). To avoid these effects, tunable dielectrics are often operated under piezoelectric resonance conditions, relying on operation well above the ferroelectric Curie temperature(7), where tunability is compromised. Therefore, there is an unavoidable trade-off between the requirements of high tunability and low loss in tunable dielectric devices, which leads to severe limitations on their figure of merit. Here we show that domain structure can in fact be exploited to obtain ultralow loss and exceptional frequency selectivity without piezoelectric resonance. We use intrinsically tunable materials with properties that are defined not only by their chemical composition, but also by the proximity and accessibility of thermodynamically predicted strain-induced, ferroelectric domain-wall variants(8). The resulting gigahertz microwave tunability and dielectric loss are better than those of the best film devices by one to two orders of magnitude and comparable to those of bulk single crystals. The measured quality factors exceed the theoretically predicted zerofield intrinsic limit owing to domain-wall fluctuations, rather than field-induced piezoelectric oscillations, which are usually associated with resonance. Resonant frequency tuning across the entire L, S and C microwave bands (1-8 gigahertz) is achieved in an individual device-a range about 100 times larger than that of the best intrinsically tunable material. These results point to a rich phase space of possible nanometre-scale domain structures that can be used to surmount current limitations, and demonstrate a promising strategy for obtaining ultrahigh frequency agility and low-loss microwave devices.