Time-dependent current-density-functional theory for the linear response of weakly disordered systems
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Time-dependent density-functional theory (TDFT) provides a way of calculating, in principle exactly, the linear response of interacting many-electron systems, and thus allows one to obtain their excitation energies. For extended systems, there exist excitations of a collective nature, such as bulk and surface plasmons in metals or intersubband plasmons in doped semiconductor quantum wells. This paper develops a quantitatively accurate first-principles description for the frequency and the linewidth of such excitations in inhomogeneous weakly disordered systems. A finite linewidth in general has intrinsic and extrinsic sources. At low temperatures and outside the region where electron-phonon interaction occurs, the only intrinsic damping mechanism is provided by electron-electron interaction. This kind of intrinsic damping can be described within TDFT, but one needs to go beyond the adiabatic approximation and include retardation effects. It has been shown [G. Vignale, C. A. Ullrich, and S. Conti, Phys. Rev. Lett. 79, 4878 (1997)] that a density-functional response theory that is local in space but nonlocal in time has to be constructed in terms of the currents, rather than the density. This theory will be reviewed in the first part of this paper. For quantitatively accurate linewidths, extrinsic dissipation mechanisms, such as impurities or disorder, have to be included in the response theory. In the second part of this paper, we discuss how extrinsic dissipation can be described within the so-called memory-function formalism. This formalism will first be introduced and reviewed for homogeneous systems. We will then present a synthesis of TDFT with the memory function formalism for inhomogeneous systems, which allows one to simultaneously account for intrinsic and extrinsic damping of collective excitations. As an example where both sources of dissipation are important and where high- quality experimental data are available for comparison, we discuss intersubband plasmons in a 40-nm-wide GaAs/Al0.3Ga0.7As quantum well.
Phys. Rev. B 65, 245102 (2002)