Phase switching in a voltage-biased Aharonov-Bohm interferometer

Vadim I. Puller1 and Yigal Meir1,2

1Department of Physics, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel
2The Ilse Katz Center for Meso- and Nano-scale Science and Technology, Ben-Gurion University, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel

(Received 12 December 2007; revised 24 February 2008; published 18 April 2008)

A recent experiment [M. Sigrist et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 98, 036805 (2007)] reported switches between 0 and pi in the phase of Aharonov-Bohm (AB) oscillations of the two-terminal differential conductance through a two-dot ring with increasing voltage bias. Using a simple model, where one of the dots contains multiple interacting levels, these findings are explained as a result of transport through the interferometer being dominated at different biases by quantum dot levels of different “parities” (i.e., the sign of the overlap integral between the dot state and the states in the leads). The redistribution of electron population between different levels with bias leads to the fact that the number of switching events is not necessarily equal to the number of dot levels, in agreement with experiment. For the same reason, switching does not always imply that the parity of levels is strictly alternating. Lastly, it is demonstrated that the correlation between the first switching of the phase and the onset of the inelastic cotunneling, as well as the sharp (rather than gradual) change of phase when switching occurs, give reason to think that the present interpretation of the experiment is preferable to the one based on electrostatic AB effect.



PACS: 73.23.-b, 73.23.Hk, 73.63.Kv

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