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Piezotronic Tuning of Potential Barriers in ZnO Bicrystals


Coupling of magnetic, ferroelectric, or piezoelectric properties with charge transport at oxide interfaces provides the option to revolutionize classical electronics. Here, the modulation of electrostatic potential barriers at tailored ZnO bicrystal interfaces by stress‐induced piezoelectric polarization is reported. Specimen design by epitaxial solid‐state transformation allows for both optimal polarization vector alignment and tailoring of defect states at a semiconductor–semiconductor interface. Both quantities are probed by transmission electron microscopy. Consequently, uniaxial compressive stress affords a complete reduction of the potential barrier height at interfaces with head‐to‐head orientation of the piezoelectric polarization vectors and an increase in potential barrier height at interfaces with tail‐to‐tail orientation. The magnitude of this coupling between mechanical input and electrical transport opens pathways to the design of multifunctional electronic devices like strain triggered transistors, diodes, and stress sensors with feasible applications for human–computer interfacing.

An epitaxial solid‐state transformation process is applied to create individual ZnO–ZnO interfaces with tailored defect chemistry and polarization vector alignment. The potential barrier height at the interfaces is increased or decreased by stress‐induced piezoelectric charges, depending on the orientation of the polarization vectors. A reduction of the barrier height by 86% demonstrates the high applicability for piezotronic applications.

Authors:   Peter Keil, Maximilian Trapp, Nikola Novak, Till Frömling, Hans‐Joachim Kleebe, Jürgen Rödel
Journal:   Advanced Materials
Year:   2018
Pages:   n/a
DOI:   10.1002/adma.201705573
Publication date:   19-Jan-2018
Facts, background information, dossiers
  • polarization
  • interfaces
  • stress
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