Ferroelectric domains were written in lithium niobate (LiNbO3) single crystals by applying voltage pulses to the tip of a scanning force microscope. The generated domains are subsequently imaged by piezoresponse force microscopy. As it has been previously observed not only full domains but also doughnut-shaped ones arise from tip-based domain formation. In this contribution, we present our experiments which were carried out with 10-20 μm thin LiNbO3 single crystals. We show that by choosing appropriate writing parameters, domains of predetermined shape (full or doughnut) can be reliably generated. In addition to the duration and the amplitude of the voltage pulse the moment of the retraction of the tip from the sample surface was found to be a crucial parameter for reproducible domain formation. © 2011 American Institute of Physics.
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