Blowing the Fuse: Berry's Phase and Runaway Vibrations in Molecular Conductors

Jing Tao Lu, Mads Brandbyge, P. Hedegård

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    We examine a molecular bridge connecting two metallic electrodes. We find that an electronic current passing across the bridge can cause a vibrational instability of the molecule, which ultimately can lead to a breakdown of the bridge. This instability is generated by a hitherto never considered mechanism, which surprisingly involves the quantum mechanical phase of the electronic waves, the "Berry phase". This mechanism works for highly conducting bridges, and contrary to breakdown by traditional joule heating, this instability is deterministic and occurs at certain critical voltages. We demonstrate the new mechanism using state-of-the-art ab initio calculations on realistic molecular bridges.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalNano Letters
    Issue number5
    Pages (from-to)1657-1663
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    • current-induced force
    • electron-vibration coupling
    • quantum interference
    • Berry's phase
    • Molecular electronics


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