A stochastic model for polarization switching in tetragonal ferroelectric ceramics is introduced, which includes sequential 90°- and parallel 180°-switching processes and accounts for the dispersion of characteristic switching times due to a nonuniform spatial distribution of the applied field. It presents merging of the recent multistep stochastic mechanism with the earlier nucleation limited switching and inhomogeneous field mechanism models. The model provides a much better description of simultaneous polarization and strain responses over a wide time window and a deeper insight into the microscopic switching mechanisms, as is exemplarily shown by comparison with measurements on lead zirconate titanate.

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