Rectification is a process that converts electromagnetic fields into a direct current. Such a process underlies a wide range of technologies, such as wireless communication, wireless charging, energy harvesting, and infrared detection. Existing rectifiers are mostly based on semiconductor diodes, with limited applicability to small-voltage or high-frequency inputs. Here, we present an alternative approach to current rectification that uses the intrinsic electronic properties of quantum crystals without using semiconductor junctions. We identify a previously unknown mechanism for rectification from skew scattering due to the inherent chirality of itinerant electrons in time-reversal invariant but inversion-breaking materials. Our calculations reveal large, tunable rectification effects in graphene multilayers and transition metal dichalcogenides. Our work demonstrates the possibility of realizing high-frequency rectifiers by rational material design and quantum wave function engineering.
May 27, 2020 | Originally published by American Association for the Advancement of Science on March 27, 2020
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