Aperiodic topological order in the domain configurations of functional materials

Fei Ting Huang, Sang Wook Cheong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


In numerous functional materials, such as steels, ferroelectrics and magnets, new functionalities can be achieved through the engineering of the domain structures, which are associated with the ordering of certain parameters within the material. The recent progress in technologies that enable imaging at atomic-scale spatial resolution has transformed our understanding of domain topology, revealing that, along with simple stripe-like or irregularly shaped domains, intriguing vortex-type topological domain configurations also exist. In this Review, we present a new classification scheme of Z m Z n domains with Z l vortices' for 2D macroscopic domain structures with m directional variants and n translational antiphases. This classification, together with the concepts of topological protection and topological charge conservation, can be applied to a wide range of materials, such as multiferroics, improper ferroelectrics, layered transition metal dichalcogenides and magnetic superconductors, as we discuss using selected examples. The resulting topological considerations provide a new basis for the understanding of the formation, kinetics, manipulation and property optimization of domains and domain boundaries in functional materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17004
JournalNature Reviews Materials
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 7 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Biomaterials


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