High-performance piezoelectric materials are critical components for electromechanical sensors and actuators. For more than 60 years, the main strategy for obtaining large piezoelectric response has been to construct multiphase boundaries, where nanoscale domains with local structural and polar heterogeneity are formed, by tuning complex chemical compositions. We used a different strategy to emulate such local heterogeneity by forming nanopillar regions in perovskite oxide thin films. We obtained a giant effective piezoelectric coefficient d 33;f of ~1098 picometers per volt with a high Curie temperature of ~450°C. Our lead-free composition of sodium-deficient sodium niobate contains only three elements (Na, Nb, and O). The formation of local heterogeneity with nanopillars in the perovskite structure could be the basis for a general approach to designing and optimizing various functional materials.
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