Title: Multi-scale characterisation of a ferroelectric polymer reveals the emergence of a morphological phase transition driven by temperature
Authors: Hafner, Jonas Alexander 
Benaglia, Simone  
Richheimer, Filipe  
Teuschel, Marco 
Maier, Franz Josef  
Artner, Werner 
Wood, Sebastian 
Platz, Daniel 
Schneider, Michael  
Hradil, Klaudia  
Castro, Fernando A 
Garcia, Ricardo 
Schmid, Ulrich 
Category: Original Research Article
Issue Date: 8-Jan-2021
Journal: Nature Communications 
ISSN: 2041-1723
Ferroelectric materials exhibit a phase transition to a paraelectric state driven by temperature - called the Curie transition. In conventional ferroelectrics, the Curie transition is caused by a change in crystal symmetry, while the material itself remains a continuous three-dimensional solid crystal. However, ferroelectric polymers behave differently. Polymeric materials are typically of semi-crystalline nature, meaning that they are an intermixture of crystalline and amorphous regions. Here, we demonstrate that the semi-crystalline morphology of the ferroelectric copolymer of vinylidene fluoride and trifluoroethylene (P(VDF-TrFE)) strongly affects its Curie transition, as not only a change in crystal symmetry but also in morphology occurs. We demonstrate, by high-resolution nanomechanical measurements, that the semi-crystalline microstructure in the paraelectric state is formed by crystalline domains embedded into a softer amorphous phase. Using in situ X-ray diffraction measurements, we show that the local electromechanical response of the crystalline domains is counterbalanced by the amorphous phase, effectively masking its macroscopic effect. Our quantitative multi-scale characterisations unite the nano- and macroscopic material properties of the ferroelectric polymer P(VDF-TrFE) through its semi-crystalline nature.
Keywords: Ferroelectric polymers; Atomic Force Microscopy
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-20407-6
Organisation: E366 - Institut für Sensor- und Aktuatorsysteme 
License: CC BY 4.0 CC BY 4.0
Publication Type: Article
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