Candidate ferroelectrics via ab initio high-throughput screening of polar materials

Francesco Ricci, Sebastian E. Reyes-Lillo, Stephanie A. Mack, Jeffrey B. Neaton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ferroelectrics are a class of polar and switchable functional materials with diverse applications, from microelectronics to energy conversion. Computational searches for new ferroelectric materials have been constrained by accurate prediction of the polarization and switchability with electric field, properties that, in principle, require a comparison with a nonpolar phase whose atomic-scale unit cell is continuously deformable from the polar ground state. For most polar materials, such a higher-symmetry nonpolar phase does not exist or is unknown. Here, we introduce a general high-throughput workflow that screens polar materials as potential ferroelectrics. We demonstrate our workflow on 1978 polar structures in the Materials Project database, for which we automatically generate a nonpolar reference structure using pseudosymmetries, and then compute the polarization difference and energy barrier between polar and nonpolar phases, comparing the predicted values to known ferroelectrics. Focusing on a subset of 182 potential ferroelectrics, we implement a systematic ranking strategy that prioritizes candidates with large polarization and small polar-nonpolar energy differences. To assess stability and synthesizability, we combine information including the computed formation energy above the convex hull, the Inorganic Crystal Structure Database id number, a previously reported machine learning-based synthesizability score, and ab initio phonon band structures. To distinguish between previously reported ferroelectrics, materials known for alternative applications, and lesser-known materials, we combine this ranking with a survey of the existing literature on these candidates through Google Scholar and Scopus databases, revealing ~130 promising materials uninvestigated as ferroelectric. Our workflow and large-scale high-throughput screening lays the groundwork for the discovery of novel ferroelectrics, revealing numerous candidates materials for future experimental and theoretical endeavors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
Journalnpj Computational Materials
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modelling and Simulation
  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Computer Science Applications


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