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J Chem Phys. 2011 Jan 28;134(4):044118. doi: 10.1063/1.3526044.

Critical comparison of electrode models in density functional theory based quantum transport calculations.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Mikrostrukturphysik, Weinberg 2, 06120 Halle, Germany.


We study the performance of two different electrode models in quantum transport calculations based on density functional theory: parametrized Bethe lattices and quasi-one-dimensional wires or nanowires. A detailed account of implementation details in both the cases is given. From the systematic study of nanocontacts made of representative metallic elements, we can conclude that the parametrized electrode models represent an excellent compromise between computational cost and electronic structure definition as long as the aim is to compare with experiments where the precise atomic structure of the electrodes is not relevant or defined with precision. The results obtained using parametrized Bethe lattices are essentially similar to the ones obtained with quasi-one-dimensional electrodes for large enough cross-sections of these, adding a natural smearing to the transmission curves that mimics the true nature of polycrystalline electrodes. The latter are more demanding from the computational point of view, but present the advantage of expanding the range of applicability of transport calculations to situations where the electrodes have a well-defined atomic structure, as is the case for carbon nanotubes, graphene nanoribbons, or semiconducting nanowires. All the analysis is done with the help of codes developed by the authors which can be found in the quantum transport toolbox ALACANT and are publicly available.


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