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Discrete versus continuous wires on quantum networks

Amnon Aharony and Ora Entin-Wohlman
Arxiv ID: 0807.4088Last updated: 4/1/2020
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 Schr\"odinger 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 Schr\"odinger 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. Even in the limit of 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 demonstrated via the example of a T-shaped scatterer.

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