Negative piezoelectric effect in an organic supramolecular ferroelectric

Indre Urbanaviciute, Xiao Meng, Michal Biter, Yingfen Wei, Tim D. Cornelissen, Subham Bhattacharjee, Mathieu Linares, Martijn Kemerink*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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The vast majority of ferroelectric materials demonstrate a positive piezoelectric effect. Theoretically, the negative piezoelectric coefficient d(33) could be found in certain classes of ferroelectrics, yet in practice, the number of materials showing linear longitudinal contraction with increasing applied field (d(33) <0) is limited to few ferroelectric polymers. Here, we measure a pronounced negative piezoelectric effect in the family of organic ferroelectric small-molecular BTAs (trialkylbenzene-1,3,5-tricarboxamides), which can be tuned by mesogenic tail substitution and structural disorder. While the large- and small-signal strain in highly-ordered thin-film BTA capacitor devices are dominated by intrinsic contributions and originates from piezostriction, rising disorder introduces additional extrinsic factors that boost the large-signal d(33) up to -20 pm V-1 in short-tailed molecules. Interestingly, homologues with longer mesogenic tails show a large-signal electromechanical response that is dominated by the quadratic Maxwell strain with significant mechanical softening upon polarization switching, whereas the small-signal strain remains piezostrictive. Molecular dynamics and DFT calculations both predict a positive d(33) for defect-free BTA stacks. Hence, the measured negative macroscopic d(33) is attributed to the presence of structural defects that enable the dimensional effect to dominate the piezoelectric response of BTA thin films.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1688-1698
Number of pages11
JournalMaterials Horizons
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1-Oct-2019



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