Ondrej Vlasin, Blai Casals, Nico Dix, Diego Gutiérrez, Florencio Sánchez & Gervasi Herranz;
Scientific Reports 5, Article number: 15800 (2015);
We have imaged optically the spatial distributions of ferroelectricity and piezoelectricity at the diffraction limit. Contributions to the birefringence from electro-optics –linked to ferroelectricity– as well as strain –arising from converse piezoelectric effects– have been recorded simultaneously in a BaTiO3 thin film. The concurrent recording of electro-optic and piezo-optic mappings revealed that, far from the ideal uniformity, the ferroelectric and piezoelectric responses were strikingly inhomogeneous, exhibiting significant fluctuations over the scale of the micrometer. The optical methods here described are appropriate to study the variations of these properties simultaneously, which are of great relevance when ferroelectrics are downscaled to small sizes for applications in data storage and processing.