The effects of neutron-induced damage on the ferroelectric properties of thin film lead zirconate titanate (PZT) were investigated. Two sets of PbZr0.52Ti0.48O3 films of varying initial quality were irradiated in a research nuclear reactor up to a maximum 1 MeV equivalent neutron fluence of (5.16± 0.03) x 1015 cm-2. Changes in domain wall mobility and reversibility were characterized by polarization-electric field measurements, Rayleigh analysis, and analysis of first order reversal curves (FORC). With increasing fluence, extrinsic contributions to the small-signal permittivity diminished. Additionally, redistribution of irreversible hysterons towards higher coercive fields was observed accompanied by the formation of a secondary hysteron peak following exposure to high fluence levels. The changes are attributed to the radiation-induced formation of defect dipoles and other charged defects, which serve as effective domain wall pinning sites. Differences in damage accumulation rates with initial film quality were observed between the film sets suggesting a dominance of pre-irradiation microstructure on changes in macroscopic switching behavior.


Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Science


The authors would like to thank the staff of the Nuclear Engineering Teaching Laboratory at UT-Austin for helping perform the irradiations, Bonnie McKenzie for electron microscopy characterization and Dr. Mark Rodriguez for performing the XRD measurements. This work was supported, in part, by the National Institute of Nano Engineering and the Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program at Sandia National Laboratories. Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory managed and operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration under Contract No. DE-AC04-94AL85000.

Keywords and Phrases

Domain-wall mobility; Ferroelectric property; First-order reversal curves; Lead zirconate titanate; Lead zirconate titanate thin films; Macroscopic switching; Pre-irradiation microstructures; Research nuclear reactors; Defects; Neutron irradiation; Thin films; Semiconducting lead compounds

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0021-8979; 1089-7550

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2013 American Institute of Physics (AIP), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Mar 2013