Discrete versus continuous wires on quantum networks

Amnon Aharony*, Ora Entin-Wohlman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mesoscopic systems and large molecules are often modeled by graphs of one-dimensional wires connected at vertices. In this paper, we discuss the solutions of the Schrödinger equation on such graphs, which have been named "quantum networks". Such solutions are needed for finding the energy spectrum of single electrons on such finite systems or for finding the transmission of electrons between leads which connect such systems to reservoirs. Specifically, we compare two common approaches. In the "continuum" approach, one solves the one-dimensional Schrödinger equation on each continuous wire and then uses the Neumann-Kirchoff-de Gennes matching conditions at the vertices. Alternatively, one replaces each wire by a finite number of "atoms" and then uses the tight binding model for the solution. Here, we show that these approaches cannot generally give the same results, except for special energies, unless the lattice constant of the tight binding model tends to zero. Even in the limit of the vanishing lattice constant, the two approaches coincide only if the tight binding parameters obey very special relations. The different consequences of the two approaches are then demonstrated via the example of a T-shaped scatterer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3676-3680
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number12
StatePublished - 26 Mar 2009


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