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Correlating Microscopic Ferroelectric Properties and Macroscopic Thin Film Device Performance


Ruglovsky, Jennifer Lynn (2007) Correlating Microscopic Ferroelectric Properties and Macroscopic Thin Film Device Performance. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/K3BG-N315.


The relationship between thin film device performance and crystallographic microstructure is one of fundamental importance in materials science. Ferroelectric materials that show an electromechanical response via domain switching, such as the perovskites BaTiO3 and PbTiO3, are discussed. In this work, we focus on thin film MEMS actuators fabricated from four different ferroelectric thin film microstructures: poorly oriented, fiber textured, biaxially textured, and single crystal. The microscale properties of these thin film materials are characterized and correlated to macroscale mechanical device behavior.

We have modeled each of these four microstructures to determine the effect of grain-scale crystallographic texture on device-scale electromechanical constants. The method enables the effective electromechanical properties to be obtained for a polycrystalline film via a self-consistent approach. Using this model, we show that most electromechanical constants depend primarily on the out-of-plane texture of the ferroelectric thin film.

We have used surface micromachining to create free-standing bridge geometries in ferroelectric thin films of polycrystalline and biaxially textured PbTiO3. The material properties of these thin films are characterized with various techniques to confirm the texture at the grain scale. We have utilized a custom experimental apparatus that can apply a loading force to a single microdevice via magnetostatic interaction while measuring the resulting displacement. The force-displacement curves that we measure provide insight into the initial stress and modulus of our composite beam devices and the role of the underlying crystalline microstructure.

In order to study cantilever actuators, BaTiO3 active layers are grown monolithically on SrRuO3 electrodes and devices are patterned via focused ion beam (FIB) milling exclusively or with a subsequent XeF2 etch. Using this fabrication method, we study cantilevers consisting of fiber, biaxial, and single crystalline microtextures. The cantilevers are actuated by applying a voltage across the active layer and the resulting displacement is measured via inspection with optical microscopy. We are able to relate the macroscopic device performance to the microscopic piezoelectric constants via multimorph calculations.

Our experiments show that ferroelectric thin film device performance may be enhanced by improving the underlying grain scale crystalline microstructure - from fiber to biaxial to single crystal texture.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:4MM; perovskite; piezoelectric
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Applied Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Atwater, Harry Albert
Thesis Committee:
  • Atwater, Harry Albert (chair)
  • Goodwin, David G.
  • Bhattacharya, Kaushik
  • Vahala, Kerry J.
Defense Date:5 February 2007
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-02252007-153131
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:766
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:26 Feb 2007
Last Modified:08 Nov 2023 00:12

Thesis Files

PDF (Thesis-JLR-final.pdf) - Final Version
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