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Perspectives and progress on wurtzite ferroelectrics: Synthesis, characterization, theory, and device applications

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Applied Physics Letters
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Wurtzite ferroelectrics are an emerging material class that expands the functionality and application space of wide bandgap semiconductors. Promising physical properties of binary wurtzite semiconductors include a large, reorientable spontaneous polarization, direct band gaps that span from the infrared to ultraviolet, large thermal conductivities and acoustic wave velocities, high mobility electron and hole channels, and low optical losses. The ability to reverse the polarization in ternary wurtzite semiconductors at room temperature enables memory and analog type functionality and quasi-phase matching in optical devices and boosts the ecosystem of wurtzite semiconductors, provided the appropriate combination of properties can be achieved for any given application. In this article, advances in the design, synthesis, and characterization of wurtzite ferroelectric materials and devices are discussed. Highlights include: the direct and quantitative observation of polarization reversal of ∼135 μC/cm2 charge in Al1−xBxN via electron microscopy, Al1−xBxN ferroelectric domain patterns poled down to 400 nm in width via scanning probe microscopy, and full polarization retention after over 1000 h of 200 °C baking and a 2× enhancement relative to ZnO in the nonlinear optical response of Zn1−xMgxO. The main tradeoffs, challenges, and opportunities in thin film deposition, heterostructure design and characterization, and device fabrication are overviewed.