Departmental Papers (MSE)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

March 2002


In order to determine the origin of image contrast in piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM), analytical descriptions of the complex interactions between a small tip and ferroelectric surface are derived for several sets of limiting conditions. Image charge calculations are used to determine potential and field distributions at the tip-surface junction between a spherical tip and an anisotropic dielectric half plane. Methods of Hertzian mechanics are used to calculate the response amplitude in the electrostatic regime. In the electromechanical regime, the limits of strong (classical) and weak (field-induced) indentation are established and the relative contributions of electroelastic constants are determined. These results are used to construct ‘‘piezoresponse contrast mechanism maps’’ that correlate the imaging conditions with the PFM contrast mechanisms. Conditions for quantitative PFM imaging are set forth. Variable-temperature PFM imaging of domain structures in BaTiO3 and the temperature dependence of the piezoresponse are compared with Ginzburg-Devonshire theory. An approach to the simultaneous acquisition of piezoresponse and surface potential images is proposed.


Copyright American Physical Society. Reprinted from Physical Review B, Volume 65, Issue 12, Article Number 125408, 15 March 2002, 11 pages.
Publisher URL:



Date Posted: 22 November 2005

This document has been peer reviewed.