Andrew K. Mitchell, David E. Logan, H. R. Krishnamurthy
We study odd-membered chains of spin-(1/2) impurities, with each end connected to its own metallic lead. For antiferromagnetic exchange coupling, universal two-channel Kondo (2CK) physics is shown to arise at low energies. Two overscreening mechanisms are found to occur depending on coupling strength, with distinct signatures in physical properties. For strong inter-impurity coupling, a residual chain spin-1/2 moment experiences a renormalized effective coupling to the leads; while in the weak-coupling regime, Kondo coupling is mediated via incipient single-channel Kondo singlet formation. We also investigate models where the leads are tunnel-coupled to the impurity chain, permitting variable dot filling under applied gate voltages. Effective low-energy models for each regime of filling are derived, and for even-fillings where the chain ground state is a spin singlet, an orbital 2CK effect is found to be operative. Provided mirror symmetry is preserved, 2CK physics is shown to be wholly robust to variable dot filling; in particular the single-particle spectrum at the Fermi level, and hence the low-temperature zero-bias conductance, is always pinned to half-unitarity. We derive a Friedel-Luttinger sum rule and from it show that, in contrast to a Fermi liquid, the Luttinger integral is non-zero and determined solely by the 'excess' dot charge as controlled by gate voltage. The relevance of the work to real quantum dot devices, where inter-lead charge-transfer processes fatal to 2CK physics are present, is also discussed. Physical arguments and numerical renormalization group techniques are used to obtain a detailed understanding of these problems.
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