Defect engineering is an effective and powerful tool to control the existing material properties and produce completely new ones, which are symmetry-forbidden in a defect-free crystal. For example, the application of a static electric field to a single crystal of SrTiO3 forms a strained near-surface layer through the migration of oxygen vacancies out of the area beneath the positively charged electrode. While it was previously shown that this near-surface phase holds pyroelectric properties, which are symmetry-forbidden in centrosymmetric bulk SrTiO3, this paper reports that the same phase is strongly piezoelectric. We demonstrate the piezoelectricity of this phase through stroboscopic time-resolved X-ray diffraction under alternating electric field and show that the effective piezoelectric coefficient d33 ranges between 60 and 100 pC/N. The possible atomistic origins of the piezoelectric activity are discussed as a coupling between the electrostrictive effect and spontaneous polarization of this near-surface phase.

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