We discuss the effect of magnetic impurities on the inelastic scattering and dephasing of electrons. Magnetic impurities mediate the energy exchange between electrons. This mechanism is especially effective at small energy transfers E in the absence of Zeeman splitting, when the two-particle collision integral in the electron kinetic equation has a kernel K ∝ 1/E2in a broad energy range. In a magnetic field, this mechanism is suppressed at E below the Zeeman energy. Simultaneously, the Zeeman splitting of the impurity spin states reduces the electron dephasing rate, thus enhancing the effect of electron interference on conduction. We find the weak localization correction to the conductivity and the magnitude of the conductance fluctuations in the presence of magnetic field of arbitrary strength. Our results can be compared quantitatively with the experiments on energy relaxation in short metallic wires and on Aharonov-Bohm conductance oscillations in wire rings. © 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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