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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering
- Physics and Astronomy(all)