Breaking the fundamental limitations of nanoscale ferroelectric characterization: non-contact heterodyne electrostrain force microscopy

Qibin Zeng, Qicheng Huang, Hongli Wang, Caiwen Li, Zhen Fan, Deyang Chen, Yuan Cheng, Kaiyang Zeng

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Perceiving nanoscale ferroelectric phenomena from real space is of great importance for elucidating underlying ferroelectric physics. During the past decades, nanoscale ferroelectric characterization has mainly relied on the Piezoresponse Force Microscopy (PFM) invented in 1992, however, the fundamental limitations of PFM have made the nanoscale ferroelectric studies encounter significant bottlenecks. In this study, a high-resolution non-contact ferroelectric measurement, named Non-Contact Heterodyne Electrostrain Force Microscopy (NC-HEsFM), is introduced. It is demonstrated that NC-HEsFM can operate on multiple eigenmodes to perform ideal high-resolution ferroelectric domain mapping, standard ferroelectric hysteresis loop measurement, and controllable domain manipulation. By using a quartz tuning fork (QTF) sensor, multi-frequency operation, and heterodyne detection schemes, NC-HEsFM achieves a real non-contact yet non-destructive ferroelectric characterization with negligible electrostatic force effect and hence breaks the fundamental limitations of the conventional PFM. It is believed that NC-HEsFM can be extensively used in various ferroelectric or piezoelectric studies with providing substantially improved characterization performance. Meanwhile, the QTF-based force detection makes NC-HEsFM highly compatible for high-vacuum and low-temperature environments, providing ideal conditions for investigating the intrinsic ferroelectric phenomena with the possibility of achieving an atomically resolved ferroelectric characterization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2100639
Number of pages15
JournalSmall Methods
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2021


  • electrostrain
  • ferroelectric
  • non-contact ferroelectric characterization
  • piezoelectric
  • piezoresponse force microscopy
  • quartz tuning fork

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