Controlled manipulation of oxygen vacancies using nanoscale flexoelectricity

Saikat Das, Bo Wang, Ye Cao, Myung Rae Cho, Yeong Jae Shin, Sang Mo Yang, Lingfei Wang, Minu Kim, Sergei V. Kalinin, Long Qing Chen, Tae Won Noh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Oxygen vacancies, especially their distribution, are directly coupled to the electromagnetic properties of oxides and related emergent functionalities that have implications for device applications. Here using a homoepitaxial strontium titanate thin film, we demonstrate a controlled manipulation of the oxygen vacancy distribution using the mechanical force from a scanning probe microscope tip. By combining Kelvin probe force microscopy imaging and phase-field simulations, we show that oxygen vacancies can move under a stress-gradient-induced depolarisation field. When tailored, this nanoscale flexoelectric effect enables a controlled spatial modulation. In motion, the scanning probe tip thereby deterministically reconfigures the spatial distribution of vacancies. The ability to locally manipulate oxygen vacancies on-demand provides a tool for the exploration of mesoscale quantum phenomena and engineering multifunctional oxide devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number615
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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