Functional materials, especially ferroelectrics are used in many devices like actuators, sensors and electronic devices. Due to high amounts of mechanical and electrical load cycles, fatigue phenomena may occur. This so called electric fatigue causes a decrease of the electromechanical coupling capability. It is assumed, that the ability to switch polarisation states, which is the reason for the ferroelectric effect, is decreased in the presence of point defects. These defects are ionic and electronic charge carriers, which can interact with each other, with microstructural elements in the bulk and with interfaces. Accumulation of defects can primarily lead to degradation, because of the loss of polarisation switchability.
The interaction of defects in the bulk is simulated to get a better understanding of the defect accumulation processes. A model based on configurational forces can be used to obtain thermodynamic consistent kinetic laws. The material used is transversally isotropic and modelled with linear electromechanical coupling. The focus is on the influence of this material anisotropy on the defect interaction. (© 2008 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)