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Unexpected Behavior in Ferroelectrics

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 08:11PM

Ferroelectric materials are a special class of materials that have the unique property of switching polarization when an electric field is applied. This property could see use in advanced forms of computing and memory storage, in part because electric fields are very easy to create. Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory however, have made a rather unexpected discovery while writing domains of switched polarization onto a ferroelectric material.

Normally one would expect that when writing domains to a material, they would simply be written where and as you want them to be. As the domains got closer together though, forming denser arrays, the domains started affecting each other. Sometimes a new domain would not form or it would form with an alternating, checkerboard pattern. Not only has this never been seen before, but at first the researchers thought this was impossible. Upon further examination, the researchers determined that this behavior was chaotic, which is typically seen over a length of time, and not over a distance in space.

With one domain able to affect those immediately next to it, and far away, this discovery could have impacts on memcomputing. This field of computing attempts to mimic neurons in our brains, which are able to both store and process information. Of course, far more research must be done before a computer operating on this domain interaction effect could be built.

Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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