Gunn-Hilsum Effect in Mechanically Strained Silicon Nanowires: Tunable Negative Differential Resistance
Journal article, 2018
Gunn (or Gunn-Hilsum) Effect and its associated negative differential resistivity (NDR) emanates from transfer of electrons between two different energy subbands. This effect was observed in semiconductors like GaAs which has a direct bandgap of very low effective mass and an indirect subband of high effective mass which lies ~300 meV above the former. In contrast to GaAs, bulk silicon has a very high energy spacing (~1 eV) which renders the initiation of transfer-induced NDR unobservable. Using Density Functional Theory (DFT), semi-empirical 10 orbital (sp 3 d 5 s ∗ ) Tight Binding and Ensemble Monte Carlo (EMC) methods we show for the first time that (a) Gunn Effect can be induced in silicon nanowires (SiNW) with diameters of 3.1 nm under +3% strain and an electric field of 5000 V/cm, (b) the onset of NDR in the I-V characteristics is reversibly adjustable by strain and (c) strain modulates the resistivity by a factor 2.3 for SiNWs of normal I-V characteristics i.e. those without NDR. These observations are promising for applications of SiNWs in electromechanical sensors and adjustable microwave oscillators. It is noteworthy that the observed NDC is different in principle from Esaki-Diode and Resonant Tunneling Diodes (RTD) in which NDR originates from tunneling effect.