Switchable polar spirals in tricolor oxide superlattices

Zijian Hong, Long Qing Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


There are increasing evidences that ferroelectric states at the nanoscale can exhibit fascinating topological structures including polar vortices and skyrmions, akin to those observed in the ferromagnetic systems. Here we report the discovery of a new type of polar topological structure, an ordered array of nanoscale spirals, in the PbTiO3/BiFeO3/SrTiO3 tricolor ferroelectric superlattice system obtained via phase-field simulations. This polar spiral structure is composed of fine ordered semi-vortex arrays with vortex cores forming a wavy distribution. It is demonstrated that the tricolor system has an ultrahigh Curie temperature of ∼1000 K and a temperature of ∼800 K for the phase transformation from spiral structure to in-plane orthorhombic domain structure, demonstrating a great thermal stability. The periodicity phase-diagram is constructed, showing multiple phases from inplane domain, polar spiral, and polar vortex to flux-closure with increasing ferroelectric layer thickness. Moreover, the spiral structure has a net in-plane polarization that could be switched by an experimentally-feasible irrotational in-plane field. The switching process involves a metastable vortex state and is fully reversible. This discovery could open up a new routine to design novel multiferroic topological structures with enhanced stability and tunability towards potential future applications in next-generation electronics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)493-498
Number of pages6
JournalActa Materialia
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Metals and Alloys


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