An ignition key for atomic-scale engines

Daniel Dundas, Brian Cunningham, Claire Buchanan, Asako Terasawa, Anthony T. Paxton, Tchavdar N. Todorov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


A current-carrying resonant nanoscale device, simulated by non-adiabatic molecular dynamics, exhibits sharp activation of non-conservative current-induced forces with bias. The result, above the critical bias, is generalized rotational atomic motion with a large gain in kinetic energy. The activation exploits sharp features in the electronic structure, and constitutes, in effect, an ignition key for atomic-scale motors. A controlling factor for the effect is the non-equilibrium dynamical response matrix for small-amplitude atomic motion under current. This matrix can be found from the steady-state electronic structure by a simpler static calculation, providing a way to detect the likely appearance, or otherwise, of non-conservative dynamics, in advance of real-time modelling.
Original languageEnglish
Article number402203
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physics: Condensed Matter
Issue number40
Early online date18 Sep 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Science(all)


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