Tables for
Volume A
Space-group symmetry
Edited by M. I. Aroyo

International Tables for Crystallography (2016). Vol. A, ch. 3.2, p. 741

Section Pyroelectricity and ferroelectricity

H. Klappera and Th. Hahna Pyroelectricity and ferroelectricity

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In principle, pyroelectricity can only exist in crystals with a permanent electric dipole moment. This moment is changed by heating and cooling, thus giving rise to electric charges on certain crystal faces, which can be detected by simple experimental procedures.

An electric dipole moment can be present only along a polar direction that has no symmetry-equivalent directions.24 Such polar directions occur in the following ten classes: 6mm, 4mm, and their subgroups 6, 4, 3m, 3, mm2, 2, m, 1 (cf. Table[link]). In point groups with a rotation axis, the electric moment is along this axis. In class m, the electric moment is parallel to any direction in the mirror plane (direction [u0w]). In class 1, any direction [uvw] is possible. In point groups 1 and m, besides a change in magnitude, a directional variation of the electric moment can also occur during heating or cooling.

In practice, it is difficult to prevent strains from developing throughout the crystal as a result of temperature gradients in the sample. This gives rise to piezoelectrically induced charges superposed on the true pyroelectric effect. Consequently, when the development of electric charges by a change in temperature is observed, the only safe deduction is that the specimen must lack a centre of symmetry. Failure to detect pyroelectricity may be due to extreme weakness of the effect, although modern methods are very sensitive.

A crystal is ferroelectric if the direction of the permanent electric dipole moment can be changed by an electric field. Thus, ferroelectricity can only occur in the ten pyroelectric crystal classes, mentioned above.

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