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We study the T=0 Kondo physics of a spin-1/2 impurity in a noncentrosymmetric metal with spin-orbit interaction. Within a simple variational approach we compute ground-state properties of the system for an arbitrary form of spin-orbit coupling consistent with the crystal symmetry. This coupling produces an unscreened impurity magnetic moment and can lead to a significant change of the Kondo energy. We discuss implications of this finding both for dilute impurities and for heavy-fermion materials without inversion symmetry. © 2012 American Physical Society.

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Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics