Ferroic materials are critical components in many modern devices. Polycrystalline states of these materials dominate the market due to their cost effectiveness and ease of production. Studying the coupling of ferroic properties across grain boundaries and within clusters of grains is therefore critical for understanding bulk polycrystalline ferroic behavior. Here, three-dimensional X-ray diffraction is used to reconstruct a 3D grain map (grain orientations and neighborhoods) of a polycrystalline barium titanate sample and track the grain-scale non-180° ferroelectric domain switching strains of 139 individual grains in situ under an applied electric field. The map shows that each grain is located in a very unique local environment in terms of intergranular misorientations, leading to local strain heterogeneity in the as-processed state of the sample. While primarily dependent on the crystallographic orientation relative to the field directions, the response of individual grains is also heterogeneous. These unique experimental results are of critical importance both when building the starting conditions and considering the validity of grain-scale modeling efforts, and provide additional considerations in the design of novel ferroic materials.
Journal of the American Ceramic Society, 2017, Vol 100, Issue 1