Communication: Energy-dependent resonance broadening in symmetric and asymmetric molecular junctions from an ab initio non-equilibrium Green's function approach
The electronic structure of organic-inorganic interfaces often features resonances originating from discrete molecular orbitals coupled to continuum lead states. An example is molecular junction, individual molecules bridging electrodes, where the shape and peak energy of such resonances dictate junction conductance, thermopower, I-V characteristics, and related transport properties. In molecular junctions where off-resonance coherent tunneling dominates transport, resonance peaks in the transmission function are often assumed to be Lorentzian functions with an energy-independent broadening parameter Γ. Here we define a new energy-dependent resonance broadening function, Γ(E), based on diagonalization of non-Hermitian matrices, which can describe resonances of a more complex, non-Lorentzian nature and can be decomposed into components associated with the left and right leads, respectively. We compute this quantity via an ab initio non-equilibrium Green's function (NEGF) approach based on density functional theory (DFT) for both symmetric and asymmetric molecular junctions, and show that our definition of Γ(E), when combined with Breit-Wigner formula, reproduces the transmission calculated from DFT-NEGF. Through a series of examples, we illustrate how this approach can shed new light on experiments and understanding of junction transport properties in terms of molecular orbitals.