Ferroelectric materials owning a polymorphic nanodomain structure usually exhibit colossal susceptibilities to external mechanical, electrical, and thermal stimuli, thus holding huge potential for relevant applications. Despite the success of traditional strategies by means of complex composition design, alternative simple methods such as strain engineering have been intensively sought to achieve a polymorphic nanodomain state in lead-free, simple-composition ferroelectric oxides in recent years. Here, a nanodomain configuration with morphed structural phases is realized in an epitaxial BaTiO3 film grown on a (111)-oriented SrTiO3 substrate. Using a combination of experimental and theoretical approaches, it is revealed that a threefold rotational symmetry element enforced by the epitaxial constraint along the  direction of BaTiO3 introduces considerable instability among intrinsic tetragonal, orthorhombic, and rhombohedral phases. Such phase degeneracy induces ultrafine ferroelectric nanodomains (1–10 nm) with low-angle domain walls, which exhibit significantly enhanced dielectric and piezoelectric responses compared to the (001)-oriented BaTiO3 film with uniaxial ferroelectricity. Therefore, the finding highlights the important role of epitaxial symmetry in domain engineering of oxide ferroelectrics and facilitates the development of dielectric capacitors and piezoelectric devices.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics