Stability of metal nanowires at ultrahigh current densities

C. H. Zhang, J. Bürki, C. A. Stafford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We develop a generalized grand canonical potential for the ballistic nonequilibrium electron distribution in a metal nanowire with a finite applied bias voltage. Coulomb interactions are treated in the self-consistent Hartree approximation, in order to ensure gauge invariance. Using this formalism, we investigate the stability and cohesive properties of metallic nanocylinders at ultrahigh current densities. A linear stability analysis shows that metal nanowires with certain magic conductance values can support current densities up to 1011Acm2, which would vaporize a macroscopic piece of metal. This finding is consistent with experimental studies of gold nanowires. Interestingly, our analysis also reveals the existence of reentrant stability zones-geometries that are stable only under an applied bias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number235404
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 15 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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