Emergence of Landauer transport from quantum dynamics: A model Hamiltonian approach

Partha Pratim Pal, S. Ramakrishna, Tamar Seideman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The Landauer expression for computing current-voltage characteristics in nanoscale devices is efficient but not suited to transient phenomena and a time-dependent current because it is applicable only when the charge carriers transition into a steady flux after an external perturbation. In this article, we construct a very general expression for time-dependent current in an electrode-molecule-electrode arrangement. Utilizing a model Hamiltonian (consisting of the subsystem energy levels and their electronic coupling terms), we propagate the Schrödinger wave function equation to numerically compute the time-dependent population in the individual subsystems. The current in each electrode (defined in terms of the rate of change of the corresponding population) has two components, one due to the charges originating from the same electrode and the other due to the charges initially residing at the other electrode. We derive an analytical expression for the first component and illustrate that it agrees reasonably with its numerical counterpart at early times. Exploiting the unitary evolution of a wavefunction, we construct a more general Landauer style formula and illustrate the emergence of Landauer transport from our simulations without the assumption of time-independent charge flow. Our generalized Landauer formula is valid at all times for models beyond the wide-band limit, non-uniform electrode density of states and for time and energy-dependent electronic coupling between the subsystems. Subsequently, we investigate the ingredients in our model that regulate the onset time scale of this steady state. We compare the performance of our general current expression with the Landauer current for time-dependent electronic coupling. Finally, we comment on the applicability of the Landauer formula to compute hot-electron current arising upon plasmon decoherence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number144707
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 14 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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