Ab initio study on the size effect of symmetric and asymmetric ferroelectric tunnel junctions: A comprehensive picture with regard to the details of electrode/ferroelectric interfaces

W. J. Chen, Yue Zheng, Xin Luo, B. Wang, C. H. Woo

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Ferroelectric size effect of BaTiO3(BTO) tunnel junctions with metal Pt and/or oxide SrRuO3(SRO) electrodes has been comprehensively investigated by the first-principle calculations. A vacuum layer is included in the supercell calculations, so that full-relaxation is achieved without artificial constraint on the supercell strains. We have constructed all of ten possible types of tunnel junctions with either symmetric or asymmetric geometries to systematically explore the influence of electrode/ferroelectric interfaces. The characteristics of atomic structure, polarization, charge density, and electrostatic potential for different geometries and sizes are revealed. It is found that the ferroelectric stability of a tunnel junction depends significantly on the details of the two electrode/ferroelectric interfaces, which present specific short- and long-range properties, e.g., local bonding environment, electronic screening, built-in field, etc. Result shows that Pt/BTO interfaces have strong coupling with ferroelectric distortion and thus play more dominant roles than the SRO/BTO interfaces in affecting the ferroelectric stability of the tunnel junctions. Particularly, it is found that Pt2/TiO2interface can induce collective ferroelectric distortion in the initially non-distorted barrier. With a full-relaxation of the strains, an abnormal enhancement of ferroelectricity by Pt2/BaO interface due to Pt-O bonding effect is demonstrated, where a strong interfacial-bonding-related polarizing field is verified. Also importantly, polarization stability of asymmetric tunnel junctions is found dependent on direction, manifested with the appearing of a new critical thickness, below which the tunnel junction loses polarization bistability. Furthermore, it shows that the local features of a specific electrode/ferroelectric interface (e.g., the interfacial atomic structure, local polarization, charge transfer, and potential step) are well kept in different types of tunnel junctions. By analyzing and summarizing the results, our results suggest that traditional phenomenological models need several modifications in order to quantitatively reproduce the size effect of ferroelectric tunnel junctions. Our study provides a comprehensive picture of the ferroelectric size effect in BTO tunnel junctions as a function of electrode/ferroelectric interfaces and should have valuable implications for future studies and applications.
Original languageEnglish
Article number064105
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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