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Unified ab initio formulation of flexoelectricity and strain-gradient elasticity

Massimiliano Stengel. Phys. Rev. B 93, 245107. DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevB.93.245107

Flexoelectricity, the polarization response of an insulating material to a strain gradient, has sparked widespread interest in the past few years as a viable route towards novel electromechanical device concepts. Flexoelectricity is a close relative of piezoelectricity, which describes the coupling between strain and polarization. Unlike the latter, which is present only in crystals that break inversion symmetry, it is a universal property of all insulators. The main drawback is that flexoelectricity is negligibly small in macroscopic samples, and this has limited its practical interest until very recently. The realization that, by downscaling the sample, one can enhance the effect in a proportion that is roughly inverse with its size, has motivated the current “revival.” A number of interesting functionalities and potential device applications have been reported recently, including the possibility of rotating or switching the ferroelectric polarization by mechanical means or of obtaining a pseudopiezoelectric effect that is comparable in magnitude to the existing commercial units 


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