Karpov D., Liu Z., Rolo T.D.S., Harder R., Balachandran P.V., Xue D., Lookman T., Fohtung E.
in Nature Communications, 8 (2017), 280. DOI:10.1038/s41467-017-00318-9
© 2017 The Author(s). Topological defects of spontaneous polarization are extensively studied as templates for unique physical phenomena and in the design of reconfigurable electronic devices. Experimental investigations of the complex topologies of polarization have been limited to surface phenomena, which has restricted the probing of the dynamic volumetric domain morphology in operando. Here, we utilize Bragg coherent diffractive imaging of a single BaTiO3 nanoparticle in a composite polymer/ferroelectric capacitor to study the behavior of a three-dimensional vortex formed due to competing interactions involving ferroelectric domains. Our investigation of the structural phase transitions under the influence of an external electric field shows a mobile vortex core exhibiting a reversible hysteretic transformation path. We also study the toroidal moment of the vortex under the action of the field. Our results open avenues for the study of the structure and evolution of polar vortices and other topological structures in operando in functional materials under cross field configurations.