Ferroelectrics are materials exhibiting spontaneous electric polarization due to dipoles formed by displacements of charged ions inside the crystal unit cell. Their exceptional properties are exploited in a variety of microelectronic applications. As ferroelectricity is strongly influenced by surfaces, interfaces and domain boundaries, there is great interest in exploring how the local atomic structure affects the electric properties. Here, using the negative spherical-aberration imaging technique in an aberration-corrected transmission electron microscope, we investigate the cation-oxygen dipoles near 180 degrees domain walls in epitaxial PbZr(0.2)Ti(0.8)O(3) thin films on the atomic scale. The width and dipole distortion across a transversal wall and a longitudinal wall are measured, and on this basis the local polarization is calculated. For the first time, a large difference in atomic details between charged and uncharged domain walls is reported.
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