In-situ observation of evolving microstructural damage and associated effective electro-mechanical properties of PZT during bipolar electrical fatigue
We investigate the fatigue behavior of bulk polycrystalline lead zirconate titanate (PZT) during bipolar electric field cycling. We characterize the frequency- and cycle-dependent degradation in both the effective electro-mechanical properties (specifically, the electrical hysteresis and the macroscopic viscoelastic stiffness and damping measured by Broadband Electromechanical Spectroscopy, BES) and the microstructural damage evolution (quantified via scanning electron microscopy). The BES setup enables the mechanical characterization while performing electrical cycling so as to measure the evolving viscoelasticity without remounting the sample; particularly measuring the viscoelastic damping allows us to gain insight into the ferroelectric domain wall activity across the full electric hysteresis and over the full range of cycles. A clear dependence on the electric cycling frequency is observed in the rates of degradation of all measured properties including an up to 10% increase in dynamic compliance and a 70% decrease in electric displacement magnitude. We quantify the evolving micro-crack density across wide ranges of numbers of cycles and compare with changes in the effective compliance. Interestingly, the observed strong degradation in the ferroelectric hysteresis is contrasted by relatively mild changes in the effective viscoelastic moduli, while samples clearly indicate increasing levels of micro-damage.