Electric-field-induced antiferroelectric to ferroelectric phase transition in polycrystalline NaNbO3

Mao Hua Zhang, Lovro Fulanović, Sonja Egert, Hui Ding, Pedro B. Groszewicz, Hans Joachim Kleebe, Leopoldo Molina-Luna, Jurij Koruza*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Electric-field-induced phase transitions are the most important characteristics of antiferroelectric materials. However, in several prototype antiferroelectrics, these transitions are irreversible and the origin of this behavior is poorly understood. This prevents their widespread use, for example, in energy storage and memory applications. Here, we investigated the antiferroelectric-ferroelectric phase transitions in polycrystalline NaNbO3, a material recently suggested as the basis for lead-free antiferroelectrics with high energy storage densities. An irreversible transition from the antiferroelectric state to a new state showing macroscopic piezoelectricity (d33=35 pC/N) was induced at 11.6 kV/mm (room temperature, 1 Hz), accompanied by a 33% drop in permittivity. Microscopically, a change from a translational antiferroelectric domain structure to a wedge-shaped ferroelectric domain structure was observed using transmission electron microscopy. 23Na solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance allowed for a detailed study of the local structure and revealed pure antiferroelectric and coexisting antiferroelectric/ferroelectric nature of the samples before and after the application of an electric field, respectively. Interestingly, despite the large electric fields applied, only 50±5% of the material underwent the antiferroelectric-ferroelectric phase transition, which was related to the material´s microstructure. The temperature- and frequency-dependence of the phase transition was studied and compared to the behavior observed in lead-based antiferroelectric systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-135
Number of pages9
JournalActa Materialia
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Antiferroelectric
  • Lead free
  • NaNbO
  • Phase transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Metals and Alloys


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