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Quantum mechanics course Tunneling Part1

Quantum mechanics course Tunneling Part1

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Published by: jlbalb on Sep 14, 2008
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01/05/2013

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5. TUNNELING
In the previous chapter we discovered that all particles with
 E 
<
0
incident on a potentialstep of height
0
are reflected. In other words, although the quantum-mechanical treat-ment predicts penetration of the wavefunction into the classically-forbidden region (theprobability density in this region is non-zero), we can not demonstrate this phenomenonin a laboratory. However, one can demonstrate the penetration into a classical-forbiddenregion if we chop-off the potential step, changing it into a barrier of width
 L
. Then, ac-cording to quantum physics, particles with
 E 
<
0
incident on the barrier from the left, willpenetrate the potential and will be transmitted into the classically-allowed region wherewe can detect them. This wholly non-classical phenomenon is called TUNNELING. Thetwo remarkable applications of tunneling are:(a)
 
Resonant tunneling diodes, which are used as switching units in fast electroniccircuits.(b)
 
Scanning tunneling microscope (STM), based on the penetration of electrons nearthe surface of a solid sample through the barrier at the surface. These electronsform a "cloud" of probability outside the sample. Although the probability of de-tecting one of these electrons decays exponentially with distance (from the sur-face), one can induce and measure a current of these electrons and attain a magni-fication factor of 100 million - large enough to permit resolution of a few hun-dredths the size of an atom. Gerd Binning and Heinrich Rohrer won the NoblePrize in Physics in 1986 for the invention of The STM.In the rest of this section, we will first describe the tunneling phenomenon through theexample of a single barrier (section 5.1). Then, in section 5.2, we will talk about double-barrier case, a type of barriers that we have in resonant tunneling diodes. The descriptionof the WKB approximation is given in section 5.3. Esaki and resonant tunneling diodesare a subject of analysis of section 5.4. We will finish this section with a description of periodic potentials.
5.1 Tunneling through a single-barrier
Consider the potential barrier shown in Figure 1, for which the potential energy term ap-pearing in the 1D TISE is of the form:
><=
 L x L x x x
,00,0,0)(
0
Following the steps outlined in the previous section, it is easy to show that for en-ergies
 E 
<
0
, the general solution of the 1D TISE in each of the three regions, is of theform:
 
ikxikx x xikxikx
Fe Ee x DeCe x Be Ae x
γ γ 
+=ψ +=ψ +=ψ 
)()()(
321
, where
2
2
h
mE 
=
and
( )
20
2
h
 E m
=γ 
.
(
 x
)
 x
0
 E 
Region 1(classically allowed)Region 2(classically forbidden)
m E 
2
212
h
=
m E 
2
2220
κ =
h
Region 3(classically allowed)
 L
Figure 1. Single potential barrier.The application of the continuity conditions of the wavefunction at the boundaries
0
=
 x
and
 L x
=
, leads to the following relationship between the unknown constants:
()()
ikLikL L L ikLikL L L
Fe Eeik  DeCe L L Fe Ee DeCe L L  D B Aik   D B A
γ γ  γ γ 
=γ ψ =ψ  +=+ψ =ψ  γ =ψ =ψ  +=+ψ =ψ 
)()( )()( )()()0()0( )0()0(
'3'232'2'121
Using the above four equations, we can find the relationships between various coeffi-cients, i.e. using matrix representation these relationships can be represented as:
=      γ       γ +      γ +      γ ==     γ +     γ      γ      γ +=
γ +γ  γ γ +
 E  M  E eieieiei D D M  Diiii B A
 Lik  Lik   Lik  Lik 
2)()( )()( 1
121121121121121121121121In other words, we have the following relationship between the coefficients
 A
and
 B
, andthe coefficients
 E 
and
:
 
===
 E  M  E  M  M  D M  B A
211
,where the matrix M has elements
m
ij
. Therefore, for coefficients
 A
and
 E 
(using the as-ymptotic condition that
=0) we have the following simple relationship:
 A
=
m
11
 E 
, i.e.thetransmission coefficient is simply given by:
2112
1)(
m A E  E 
==
.After a rather straightforward calculation, we arrive at the following expression for thetransmission coefficient for particle energies less than the barrier height:
12222
)(21)(
γ       γ +γ +=
Lsh E 
In the case of a weak barrier (
γ 
 L
<<1), the expression for the transmission coefficient sim-plifies to:
( )
2
2 / 11)(
kL E 
+
.In the opposite limit, i.e. when the barrier is very strong (
γ 
 L
is very large), we have thefollowing approximate expression for the transmission coefficient:
( )
 L E 
γ       γ +γ 
2exp4)(
222
.For energies larger than the barrier height, i.e.
 E 
>
0
, using that
γ 
=i
2
, gives:
12222222
)(sin21)(
      +=
Lkk  E 
.The later result is similar to the one obtained in the previous section, i.e. the transmissionmaxima (T(E)=1) occur for
π=
n L
2
.In Fig. 2a, we show several results for a potential barrier. The barrier heightequals
0
=0.4 eV, whereas the barrier width is
 L
=6 nm. We also show how the transmis-sion coefficient varies with the width of the barrier, for fixed
 E 
and
0
(Fig. 2b). We con-sider two cases: particle energies smaller and larger than the barrier height.

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