Current-induced atomic forces in gated graphene nanoconstrictions

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Electronic current densities can reach extreme values in highly conducting nanostructures where constrictions limit current. For bias voltages on the 1 V scale, the highly nonequilibrium situation can influence the electronic density between atoms, leading to significant interatomic forces of the order of 1 nN. An easy interpretation of the nonequilibrium forces is currently not available, to our knowledge. In this work, we present an ab initio study based on density functional theory of bias-induced atomic forces in gated graphene nanoconstrictions consisting of junctions between graphene electrodes and graphene nanoribbons in the presence of current. We find that current-induced bond forces and bond charges are correlated, while bond forces are not simply correlated to bond currents. We discuss, in particular, how the forces are related to induced charges and the electrostatic potential profile (voltage drop) across the junctions. For long current-carrying junctions we may separate the junction into a part with a voltage drop, and a part without voltage drop. The latter situation can be compared to a nanoribbon in the presence of current using an ideal ballistic velocity-dependent occupation function. This shows how the combination of voltage drop and current give rise to the strongest current-induced forces in nanostructures.
Original languageEnglish
Article number035415
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number3
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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