Scaling of the structural order parameter, polarization, and electrical properties was investigated in model ultrathin epitaxial SrRuO3PbZr0.2Ti0.8O3SrRuO3SrTiO3 heterostructures. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy images revealed the interfaces to be sharp and fully coherent. Synchrotron x-ray studies show that a high tetragonality (ca1.058) is maintained down to 50Å thick films, suggesting indirectly that ferroelectricity is fully preserved at such small thicknesses. However, measurement of the switchable polarization (ΔP) using a pulsed probe setup and the out-of-plane piezoelectric response (d33) revealed a systematic drop from 140μCcm2 and 60pmV for a 150Å thick film to 11μCcm2 and 7pmV for a 50Å thick film. This apparent contradiction between the structural measurements and the measured switchable polarization is explained by an increasing presence of a strong depolarization field, which creates a pinned 180° polydomain state for the thinnest films. Existence of a polydomain state is demonstrated by piezoresponse force microscopy images of the ultrathin films. These results suggest that the limit for a ferroelectric memory device may be much larger than the fundamental limit for ferroelectricity.

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