A Review of Recent Progress in Understanding the Spontelectric State of Matter

Oskana Plekan, Alexander Rosu-Finsen, Andrew M. Cassidy, Jérôme Lasne, Martin R. S. McCoustra, David Field

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
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The spontelectric state of matter is exemplified by the presence of spontaneous electric fields in thin films of dipolar solids. The spontelectric state was discovered using a low energy electron beam technique. Following a resume of the characteristics and of a model for the spontelectric effect, a description is given of the counter-intuitive behaviour of fields in films of methyl formate as a function of deposition temperature, T. It is found that films for T ≤ 77.5 K show the expected decrease in the field with increasing T but, for T ≥ 77.5 K, an increase in the field for higher T is revealed. Analysis of these results illustrates the non-linear characteristics of the spontelectric state. Recently it has been shown that Reflection-Absorption Infrared Spectroscopy (RAIRS) provides a new and independent technique for the detection of the spontelectric effect, through the observation of vibrational Stark shifts in spectra of films. Stark shifts for nitrous oxide are demonstrated to be in harmony with electric fields measured using the electron beam technique. The method is then applied to carbon monoxide, showing that this material displays the spontelectric effect between deposition temperatures of 20 K and 26 K.
Original languageEnglish
Article number162
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Physical Journal D
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2017


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