Current-induced nonequilibrium vibrations in single-molecule devices

Jens Koch*, Matthias Semmelhack, Felix Von Oppen, Abraham Nitzan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Finite-bias electron transport through single molecules generally induces nonequilibrium molecular vibrations (phonons). By a mapping to a Fokker-Planck equation, we obtain analytical scaling forms for the nonequilibrium phonon distribution in the limit of weak electron-phonon coupling λ within a minimal model. Remarkably, the width of the phonon distribution diverges as ∼ λ-α when the coupling decreases, with voltage-dependent, noninteger exponents α. This implies a breakdown of perturbation theory in the electron-phonon coupling for fully developed nonequilibrium. We also discuss possible experimental implications of this result, such as current-induced dissociation of molecules.

Original languageEnglish
Article number155306
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number15
StatePublished - 2006


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