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Title:Exploring the limits of the self-consistent Born approximation for inelastic electronic transport
Authors:W. Lee, N. Jean, and S. Sanvito, 2009
Abstract: The nonequilibrium Green's function formalism is today the standard computational method for describing elastic transport in molecular devices. This can be extended to include inelastic scattering by the so-called self-consistent Born approximation (SCBA), where the interaction of the electrons with the vibrations of the molecule is assumed to be weak and it is treated perturbatively. The validity of such assumption and therefore of the SCBA is difficult to establish with certainty. In this work we explore the limitations of the SCBA by using a simple tight-binding model with the electron-phonon coupling strength α chosen as a free parameter. As model devices we consider Au monatomic chains and a H2 molecule sandwiched between Pt electrodes. In both cases, our self-consistent calculations demonstrate a breakdown of the SCBA for large α and we identify a weak and a strong-coupling regime. For weak coupling our SCBA results compare closely with those obtained with exact scattering theory. However in the strong-coupling regime large deviations are found. In particular we demonstrate that there is a critical coupling strength, characteristic of the materials system, beyond which multiple self-consistent solutions can be found depending on the initial conditions in the simulation. These are entirely due to the large contribution of the Hartree self-energy and completely disappear when this is neglected. We attribute this feature to the breakdown of the perturbative expansion leading to the SCBA.
ICHEC Project:Transport properties of organic macromolecules: modeling at the boundaries between biology and nano-electronics
Publication:Phys. Rev. B, 79, 085120, (2009)
URL: http://link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevB.79.085120
Keywords: electrochemical electrodes, electron-phonon interactions, gold, Green's function methods, hydrogen, molecular electronics, platinum, SCF calculations, tight-binding calculations
Status: Published

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