M. S. Senn, D. A. Keen, T. C. A. Lucas, J. A. Hriljac, and A. L. Goodwin, Phys. Rev. Lett. 116 (2016), 207602.
By using a symmetry motivated basis to evaluate local distortions against pair distribution function data (PDF), we show without prior bias, that the off-centre Ti displacements in the archetypal ferroelectric BaTiO3 are zone centred and rhombohedral-like in nature across its known ferroelectric and paraelectric phases. With our newly-gained insight we construct a simple Monte Carlo (MC) model which captures our main experimental findings and demonstrate how the rich crystallographic phase diagram of BaTiO3 emerges from correlations of local symmetry-breaking distortions alone. Our results strongly support the order-disorder picture for these phase transitions, but can also be reconciled with the soft-mode theory of BaTiO3 that is supported by some spectroscopic techniques.