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Orbital Kondo effect in carbon nanotubes


Progress in the fabrication of nanometre-scale electronic devices is opening new opportunities to uncover deeper aspects of the Kondo effect1—a characteristic phenomenon in the physics of strongly correlated electrons. Artificial single-impurity Kondo systems have been realized in various nanostructures, including semiconductor quantum dots2,3,4, carbon nanotubes5,6 and individual molecules7,8. The Kondo effect is usually regarded as a spin-related phenomenon, namely the coherent exchange of the spin between a localized state and a Fermi sea of delocalized electrons. In principle, however, the role of the spin could be replaced by other degrees of freedom, such as an orbital quantum number9,10. Here we show that the unique electronic structure of carbon nanotubes enables the observation of a purely orbital Kondo effect. We use a magnetic field to tune spin-polarized states into orbital degeneracy and conclude that the orbital quantum number is conserved during tunnelling. When orbital and spin degeneracies are present simultaneously, we observe a strongly enhanced Kondo effect, with a multiple splitting of the Kondo resonance at finite field and predicted to obey a so-called SU(4) symmetry.

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Figure 1: Spin, orbital and SU(4) Kondo effect in a quantum dot (QD) with an odd number of electrons.
Figure 2: Orbital Kondo effect.
Figure 3: Kondo effect with combined spin and orbital degeneracies (spinorbital Kondo effect).


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We thank G. Zaránd, R. Aguado and J. Martinek for discussions. Financial support was obtained from the Japanese Solution Oriented Research for Science and Technology (SORST) program and the Dutch Fundamenteel Onderzoek der Materie (FOM).

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Correspondence to Pablo Jarillo-Herrero.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Figure S1

This file contains Supplementary Figure S1, which consists of three panels related to the 'Single particle energy spectrum & G(VG, B) spectroscopy' section of the Supplementary Information. (PDF 106 kb)

Supplementary Figure S2

This file contains Supplementary Figure S2, which details the temperature dependence data for the SU(4) Kondo effect. (PDF 195 kb)

Supplementary Discussion

This file consists of four sections, the orbital degeneracy & Kondo effect; the single particle energy spectrum & G(VG, B) spectroscopy; the temperature dependence; and the fabrication and measurement setup (DOC 41 kb)


Erratum regarding incorrect Supplementary Information uploading to Nature's website for this paper. This correction was made on 31 March 2005. (DOC 24 kb)

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Jarillo-Herrero, P., Kong, J., van der Zant, H. et al. Orbital Kondo effect in carbon nanotubes. Nature 434, 484–488 (2005).

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