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Multistep stochastic mechanism of polarization reversal in rhombohedral ferroelectrics
A stochastic model for the field-driven polarization reversal in rhombohedral ferroelectrics is developed, providing a description of their temporal electromechanical response. Application of the model to simultaneous measurements of polarization and strain kinetics in a rhombohedral Pb(Zr,Ti)O3 ceramic over a wide time window allows the identification of preferable switching paths, fractions of individual switching processes, and their activation fields. In conjunction, the phenomenological Landau-Ginzburg-Devonshire theory is used to analyze the impact of an external field and stress on switching barriers, showing that residual mechanical stress may promote the fast switching.