A negative differential resistance (NDR) in a one-dimensional band insulator attached to electrodes is investigated. We systematically examine the effects of an electrode bandwidth and a potential distribution inside the insulator on current-voltage characteristics. We show that, in uncorrelated systems, the NDR is generally caused by a linear potential gradient as well as by a finite electrode bandwidth. In particular, the former reduces the effective bandwidth of the insulator for elastic tunneling by tilting its energy band, so that it brings about the NDR even in the limit of large electrode bandwidth.
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