Europhys. Lett.
Volume 71, Number 2, July 2005
Page(s) 249 - 255
Section Condensed matter: structural, mechanical and thermal properties
Published online 15 June 2005
Europhys. Lett., 71 (2), pp. 249-255 (2005)
DOI: 10.1209/epl/i2005-10076-4

Relaxor ferroelectrics and intrinsic inhomogeneity

A. Bussmann-Holder1, A. R. Bishop2 and T. Egami3, 4

1  Max-Planck-Institute for Solid State Research Heisenbergstr. 1, D-70569 Stuttgart, Germany
2  Los Alamos National Laboratory, Theoretical Division - Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA
3  University of Tennessee, Department of Materials Science and Department of Physics and Astronomy - Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
4  Oak Ridge National Laboratory - Oak Ridge, TN 37831, USA

received 3 May 2005; accepted 18 May 2005
published online 15 June 2005

Relaxor ferroelectrics (RF) are characterized by diffuse ferroelectric transitions and high and frequency-dependent dielectric susceptibilities. Non-RFs show high dielectric responses only in the direct vicinity of the transition temperature whereas RFs exhibit high responses over a large temperature range. Despite their long history, the microscopic origin of RFs is still unknown due to their structural complexity. RF behaviour is exclusively observed in nonstoichiometric, mixed ion systems, and represents a composite of dielectrically soft matrix and highly polarizable doped ions. Here we propose a multi-component scenario with intrinsic inhomogeneity, which shows that spatially localized excitations (discrete breathers) coupled to the soft matrix yield a self-consistent multi-length scale response and successfully explains the relaxor ferroelectric behaviour.

63.20.Pw - Localized modes.
63.20.Ry - Anharmonic lattice modes.
64.60.-i - General studies of phase transitions.

© EDP Sciences 2005