Influence of Geometry on Quasi-Ballistic Behavior in Silicon Nanowire Geometric Diodes

Diodes are a basic component of electrical circuits to control the flow of charge, and geometric diodes (GDs) are a special class that can operate using ballistic or quasi-ballistic transport in conjunction with geometric asymmetry to direct charge carriers preferentially in one direction, enabling an electron ratcheting effect. Nanomaterials present a unique platform for the development of GDs, and silicon nanowire (NW)-based GDs─cylindrically symmetric but translationally asymmetric three-dimensional nanostructures─have recently been demonstrated functioning at room temperature. These devices can theoretically achieve a near zero-bias turn-on voltage and rectify up to THz frequencies. Here, we synthesize silicon NW GDs and fabricate single-NW devices from which significant changes in diode performance are observed from relatively minor changes in geometry. To elucidate the interplay between geometry and ballistic behavior, we develop a Monte Carlo simulation that describes the quasi-ballistic behavior of electrons within a three-dimensional NW GD. We examine the effects of doping level, temperature, and geometry on charge carrier transport, revealing the relationships between charge carrier mean free path (MFP), specular reflection at surfaces, and geometry on GD performance. As expected, geometry strongly influences performance by directing or blocking charge carrier passage through the nanostructure. Interestingly, we find that the blocking effect is at least as important as the directing effect. Moreover, within certain geometric limits, the diode behavior is less sensitive to the MFP than might be initially expected because of the short relevant length scales and importance of the blocking effect. The results provide guidelines for the future design of NW GDs and enable the prediction and interpretation of trends in experimental results. An improved understanding of quasi-ballistic transport is crucial to guiding future experiments toward realizing THz rectification for applications in high-speed data transfer and long-wavelength energy harvesting.

Influence of Geometry on Quasi-Ballistic Behavior in Silicon Nanowire Geometric Diodes Kelly L. White, Max A. Umantsev, Jeremy D. Low, James P. Custer Jr., and James F. Cahoon ACS Applied Nano Materials 2023 6 (7), 5117-5126 DOI: 10.1021/acsanm.2c04666