Ferroelectric Polarization in an Elementary Substance or Single-Element Compound


A technical paper titled “Two-dimensional ferroelectricity in a single-element bismuth monolayer” was published by researchers at National University of Singapore, Zhejiang University, Tianjin University, and University of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

“Ferroelectric materials are fascinating for their non-volatile switchable electric polarizations induced by the spontaneous inversion-symmetry breaking. However, in all of the conventional ferroelectric compounds, at least two constituent ions are required to support the polarization switching. Here, we report the observation of a single-element ferroelectric state in a black phosphorus-like bismuth layer, in which the ordered charge transfer and the regular atom distortion between sublattices happen simultaneously. Instead of a homogenous orbital configuration that ordinarily occurs in elementary substances, we found the Bi atoms in a black phosphorous-like Bi monolayer maintain a weak and anisotropic sp orbital hybridization, giving rise to the inversion-symmetry-broken buckled structure accompanied with charge redistribution in the unit cell. As a result, the in-plane electric polarization emerges in the Bi monolayer. Using the in-plane electric field produced by scanning probe microscopy, ferroelectric switching is further visualized experimentally. Owing to the conjugative locking between the charge transfer and atom displacement, we also observe the anomalous electric potential profile at the 180° tail-to-tail domain wall induced by competition between the electronic structure and electric polarization. This emergent single-element ferroelectricity broadens the mechanism of ferroelectrics and may enrich the applications of ferroelectronics in the future.”

Find the technical paper here. Published April 2023.

Gou, J., Bai, H., Zhang, X. et al. Two-dimensional ferroelectricity in a single-element bismuth monolayer. Nature (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-023-05848-5.

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