Scanning force microscopy is used to investigate microscale ferroelectric domains at the +Z surface of near-stoichiometric lithium tantalate (SLT) single crystals. Both line and lattice patterns of microdomains are fabricated at the +Z surface of SLT wafers, which are switched by scanning these wafers with the external field exceeding the coercive field. The +Z polar surface in these patterns is etched by a mixture of acid aqueous solution (HF : HNO = 1 : 1), which reveals the precise microdomain structure. The analysis of the experimental data indicates that the rearrangement of the ferroelectric domain structure occurs during the chemical etching process; the effect of both defect and crystal structure on the microdomain growth process is also discussed. The present results are helpful for us to realize the fabrication of the expected microdomain morphology.
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