Quantum transport through one-dimensional aluminum wires
Quantum conductance in narrow channels has been well understood by using the two-dimensional electron gas, a model system which has been realized in semiconductor heterojunctions. An essential property of this electron gas is its ability to support a constriction of width comparable to the Fermi wavelength, a property not shared by even thin metal films. The advent of scanning tunneling microscope has made possible the fabrication of metallic wires of atomic widths. We investigate one-dimensional wires consisting of aluminum atoms, to be specific. Using the first-principles density functional calculations, we obtain the optimal structures and report the bonding as deduced from the charge density analysis. With the calculated electronic structure in hand, we discussed the quantum ballistic transport using channel capacity arguments motivated by the Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. By comparing our results with the detailed pioneering calculations by Lang, we inferred an average value for channel transmitivity and touched upon material specific contact resistance. Finally, the validity of the Wiedemann–Franz law in the quantum domain is established by studying thermal conductance in nanowires.