Nano Letters

Size-dependent polar ordering in colloidal GeTe nanocrystals

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The question of the nature and stability of polar ordering in nanoscale ferroelectrics is examined with colloidal nanocrystals of germanium telluride (GeTe). We provide atomic-scale evidence for room-temperature polar ordering in individual nanocrystals using aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy and demonstrate a reversible, size-dependent polar-nonpolar phase transition of displacive character in nanocrystal ensembles. A substantial linear component of the distortion is observed, which is in contrast with theoretical reports predicting a toroidal state. © 2011 American Chemical Society.