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First-principles study of piezoelectric (Ba,Ca)TiO3-Ba(Ti,Zr)O3 solid solutions

Abstract : High-performance piezoelectrics are key components of various smart devicesand, recently, it has been discovered that (Ba,Ca)(Ti,Zr)O3 (BCTZ) solid solutions show appealingelectromechanical properties. Nevertheless, the microscopic mechanisms leading to suchfeatures are still unclear and theoretical investigations of BCTZ remain very limited. Accordingly,this thesis analyzes the properties of various compositions of (Ba,Ca)TiO3-Ba(Ti,Zr)O3solid solutions by means of first-principles calculations, with a focus on the lattice dynamicsand the competition between different ferroelectric phases. We first analyze the four parentcompounds BaTiO3, CaTiO3, BaZrO3 and CaZrO3 in order to compare their properties andtheir different tendency towards ferroelectricity. Then, the core of our study is a systematiccharacterization of the binary systems (Ba,Ca)TiO3 and Ba(Ti,Zr)O3 within both the virtualcrystal approximation (VCA) and direct supercell calculations. When going from BaTiO3 toCaTiO3 in (Ba,Ca)TiO3, the main feature is a gradual transformation from B-type to A-typeferroelectricity due to steric effects that largely determine the behavior of the system. In particular,for low Ca-concentration we found out an overall weakened B-driven ferroelectricitythat produces the vanishing of the energy barrier between different polar states and resultsin a quasi-isotropic polarization. A sizable enhancement of the piezoelectric response resultsfrom these features. When going from BaTiO3 to BaZrO3 in Ba(Ti,Zr)O3, in contrast, thebehavior is dominated by cooperative Zr-Ti motions and the local electrostatics. In particular,low Zr-concentration produces the further stabilization of the R3m-phase. Then, the systemshows the tendency to globally reduce the polar distortion with increasing Zr-concentration.Nevertheless, ferroelectricity can be locally preserved in Ti-rich regions. We also found out anunexpected polar activation of Zr as a function of specific atomic ordering explained via a basicelectrostatic model based on BaZrO3/mBaTiO3 superlattice. A microscopic factor behind theenhanced piezoelectric response in BCTZ, at low concentration of Ca and Zr, can thus be theinterplay between weakened Ti-driven and emerging Ca-driven ferroelectricity, which producesminimal anisotropy for the polarization. In addition, our comparative study reveals that thespecific microscopic physics of these solid solutions sets severe limits to the applicability of thevirtual crystal approximation (VCA) for these systems.
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Danila Amoroso. First-principles study of piezoelectric (Ba,Ca)TiO3-Ba(Ti,Zr)O3 solid solutions. Material chemistry. Université de Bordeaux; Université de Liège, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018BORD0163⟩. ⟨tel-02087297⟩

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