Time-dependent quantum transport: an efficient method based on Liouville-von-Neumann equation for single-electron density matrix

J Chem Phys. 2012 Jul 28;137(4):044113. doi: 10.1063/1.4737864.


Basing on our hierarchical equations of motion for time-dependent quantum transport [X. Zheng, G. H. Chen, Y. Mo, S. K. Koo, H. Tian, C. Y. Yam, and Y. J. Yan, J. Chem. Phys. 133, 114101 (2010)], we develop an efficient and accurate numerical algorithm to solve the Liouville-von-Neumann equation. We solve the real-time evolution of the reduced single-electron density matrix at the tight-binding level. Calculations are carried out to simulate the transient current through a linear chain of atoms, with each represented by a single orbital. The self-energy matrix is expanded in terms of multiple Lorentzian functions, and the Fermi distribution function is evaluated via the Padè spectrum decomposition. This Lorentzian-Padè decomposition scheme is employed to simulate the transient current. With sufficient Lorentzian functions used to fit the self-energy matrices, we show that the lead spectral function and the dynamics response can be treated accurately. Compared to the conventional master equation approaches, our method is much more efficient as the computational time scales cubically with the system size and linearly with the simulation time. As a result, the simulations of the transient currents through systems containing up to one hundred of atoms have been carried out. As density functional theory is also an effective one-particle theory, the Lorentzian-Padè decomposition scheme developed here can be generalized for first-principles simulation of realistic systems.