Inelastic electron scattering off a quantum dot in the cotunneling regime: The signature of mesoscopic Stoner instability
We explore the inelastic electron-scattering cross section off a metallic quantum dot close to the Stoner instability. We focus on the regime of strong Coulomb blockade in which the scattering cross section is dominated by the cotunneling processes. For large enough exchange interaction, the quantum dot acquires a finite total spin in the ground state. In this so-called mesoscopic Stoner instability regime, we find that at low enough temperatures, the inelastic scattering cross section (including the contribution due to an elastic electron spin flip) for an electron with an energy close to the chemical potential is different from the case of a magnetic impurity with the same spin. This difference stems from (i) the presence of low-lying many-body states of a quantum dot and (ii) the correlations of the tunneling amplitudes. Our results provide a possible explanation for the absence of the dephasing rate saturation at low temperatures in a recent experiment [N. Teneh, A. Yu. Kuntsevich, V. M. Pudalov, and M. Reznikov, Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 226403 (2012)] in which the existence of local spin droplets in disordered electron liquid has been unraveled.