Polar domains arise in insulating ferroelectrics when free carriers are unable to fully screen surface-bound charges. Recently discovered binary and ternary polar metals exhibit broken inversion symmetry coexisting with free electrons that might be expected to suppress the electrostatic driving force for domain formation. Contrary to this expectation, we report the first direct observation of polar domains in single crystals of the polar metal Ca3Ru2O7. By a combination of mesoscale optical second-harmonic imaging and atomic-resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy, the polar domains are found to possess a quasi-two-dimensional slab geometry with a lateral size of ∼100 μm and thickness of ∼10 nm. Electronic structure calculations show that the coexistence of electronic and parity-lifting orders arise from anharmonic lattice interactions, which support 90° and 180° polar domains in a metal. Using in situ transmission electron microscopy, we also demonstrate a strain-tuning route to achieve ferroelastic switching of polar metal domains.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Mechanical Engineering