Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Kondo screening cloud

The Kondo screening cloud: what it is and how to observe it
The Kondo effect involves the formation of a spin singlet by a magnetic impurity and conduction electrons. It is characterized by a low temperature scale, the Kondo temperature, $T_K$, and an associated long length scale, $\xi_K = \hbar v_F/(k_BT_K)$ where $v_F$ is the Fermi velocity. This Kondo length is often estimated theoretically to be in the range of .1 to 1 microns but such a long characteristic length scale has never been observed experimentally. In this review, I will examine how $\xi_K$ appears as a crossover scale when one probes either the dependence of physical quantities an distance from the impurity or when the impurity is embedded in a finite size structure and discuss possible experiments that might finally observe this elusive length scale.

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