Processing effects on the microstructure and ferroelectric properties of strontium bismuth tantalate thin films
Ferroelectric thin films of strontium bismuth tantalate compositions with Bi/Sr ratios of 2.75 and 2.50 have been produced by deposition of solutions derived from sol-gels followed by crystallization using rapid thermal processing (RTP) at 650 °C. Single-step and two-step processes have been used for the RTP crystallization of the films. Both the composition and the heating process used affect the grain size, grain shape and compositional heterogeneity of the films, acting on their ferroelectric switching behaviour and dielectric properties. Larger and more elongated grains are obtained by crystallization using a single-step process. These films exhibit less slanted hysteresis loops. The combination of the study of the pure-ferroelectric-switching loop and the lambda curves through the application of a Curie-Weiss-like model gives a deeper insight into the influence of film heterogeneity on its ferroelectric properties. The observation of net polarisation without poling in all the films is attributed to the effects of 180° ferroelectric domains.