Visualization of ferroaxial domains in an order-disorder type ferroaxial crystal


Ferroaxial materials that exhibit spontaneous ordering of a rotational structural distortion with an axial vector symmetry have gained growing interest, motivated by recent extensive studies on ferroic materials. As in conventional ferroics (e.g., ferroelectrics and ferromagnetics), domain states will be present in the ferroaxial materials. However, the observation of ferroaxial domains is non-trivial due to the nature of the order parameter, which is invariant under both time-reversal and space-inversion operations. Here we propose that NiTiO3 is an order-disorder type ferroaxial material, and spatially resolve its ferroaxial domains by using linear electrogyration effect: optical rotation in proportion to an applied electric field. To detect small signals of electrogyration (order of 10−5 deg V−1), we adopt a recently developed difference image-sensing technique. Furthermore, the ferroaxial domains are confirmed on nano-scale spatial resolution with a combined use of scanning transmission electron microscopy and convergent-beam electron diffraction. Our success of the domain visualization will promote the study of ferroaxial materials as a new ferroic state of matter.



Title: Visualization of ferroaxial domains in an order-disorder type ferroaxial crystal
Publication: Nature Communications
Author: T. Hayashida, Y. Uemura, K. Kimura, S. Matsuoka, D. Morikawa, S. Hirose, K. Tsuda, T. Hasegawa, and T. Kimura
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-18408-6 
Published: 11 September 2020