Enhancing the optical response of graphene is a topic of interest with applications in optoelectronics. Subject to light irradiation, graphene can exhibit nontrivial topologically insulating states, effectively turning itself into a Floquet topological insulator due to the time periodicity of the external driving. We find that, when random disorder is present, its interplay with the topologically insulating states can have a dramatic effect on electronic transport through graphene. In particular, we consider the prototypical setting where a graphene nanoribbon is irradiated by circularly polarized light, where the length of the nanoribbon is sufficiently long so that evanescent states have little effect on transport. We uncover a resonance phenomenon in which the conductance is enhanced as the disorder strength is increased from zero, reaches a maximum value for an optimal level of disorder, and decreases as the disorder is strengthened further. With respect to its value at the zero-disorder strength, the maximum conductance value can be as much as 50% higher. Qualitatively, this can be understood as a result of the dynamical interplay between disorder and Floquet states (channels) generated by light irradiation. Quantitatively, the resonance phenomenon can be explained in the framework of Born theory, where the disorder reorganizes the Floquet Hamiltonian and enhances the effective coupling between the adjacent Floquet conducting channels. That is, disorder is capable of promoting both photon absorption and emission, leading to significant enhancement of nonequilibrium electronic transport. We demonstrate the robustness of the resonance phenomenon by investigating the effects of spatial symmetry breaking on transport and provide an understanding based on analyzing the behavior of the density of states of the Floquet channels.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics