Following the recent observation of the quantum spin Hall (QSH) effect in HgTe quantum wells, an important issue is to understand the effect of impurities on transport in the QSH regime. Using linear response and renormalization group methods, we calculate the edge conductance of a QSH insulator as a function of temperature in the presence of a magnetic impurity. At high temperatures, Kondo and/or two-particle scattering give rise to a logarithmic temperature dependence. At low temperatures, for weak Coulomb interactions in the edge liquid, the conductance is restored to unitarity with unusual power laws characteristic of a "local helical liquid," while for strong interactions, transport proceeds by weak tunneling through the impurity where only half an electron charge is transferred in each tunneling event.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)