Nonconservative current-induced forces: A physical interpretation

Tchavdar Todorov, Daniel Dundas, Anthony Paxton, Andrew P. Horsfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
222 Downloads (Pure)


We give a physical interpretation of the recently demonstrated non-conservative nature of interatomic forces in current-carrying nanostructures. We start from the analytical expression for the curl of these forces, and evaluate it for a point defect in a current-carrying system. We obtain a general definition of the capacity of electrical current flow to exert a non-conservative force, and thus do net work around closed paths, by a formal non-invasive test procedure. Second, we show that the gain in atomic kinetic energy in time, generated by non-conservative current-induced forces, is equivalent to the uncompensated stimulated emission of directional phonons. This connection with electron-phonon interactions quantifies explicitly the intuitive notion that non-conservative forces work by angular momentum transfer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-733
Number of pages7
JournalBeilstein Journal of Nanotechnology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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