University of Cambridge > > Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy Seminar Series > Electrostatic effects in nanoscale ferroelectrics

Electrostatic effects in nanoscale ferroelectrics

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The behavior of nanoscale forms of matter, such as thin films or nanocrystal, is strongly influenced by the structure and behavior of their surfaces and interfaces. In nanoscale ferroelectrics, a surface charge arises as a consequence of the ferroelectric polarization itself, and this surface charge leads to an electrostatic instability – the so-called “polar catastrophe” – if it is not compensated. Here we show how the properties of ferroelectric materials at the nanoscale are intimately linked to the compensation mechanism that takes place at their surface. We also demonstrate how the structural and electronic properties of PbTiO3, BiFeO3 and KTaO3 lead to a different compensation mechanism in each case, and we discuss how to harness the properties of these nanoscale materials for applications in microelectronics and catalysis.

Dr Chiara Gattinoni is a Lecturer in Physics at King’s College London.

She uses atomistic computational methods to study a wide range of surface science problems, from surfaces and interfaces of ferroelectric materials, to catalysts for water splitting, to nanoscale lubrication.

Chiara received her B.Sc. and PhD from the Department of Physics at King’s College London. After a two-year hiatus from science to work in financial services, Chiara started building her multidisciplinary research expertise at Imperial College London (Engineering), University College London (Chemistry) and ETH Zurich (Materials Science). At ETH she held a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship between 2017-2020. She was appointed Lecturer in Chemical Engineering at London South Bank University in 2021 before moving to KCL Physics in 2023.

This talk is part of the Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy Seminar Series series.

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