1 Condensed Matter Physics, The Niels Bohr Institute, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology3 Condensed Matter Physics, The Niels Bohr Institute, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet
Early experiments on spin-blockaded double quantum dots revealed robust, large-amplitude current oscillations in the presence of a static (dc) source-drain bias. Despite experimental evidence implicating dynamical nuclear polarization, the mechanism has remained a mystery. Here we introduce a minimal albeit realistic model of coupled electron and nuclear spin dynamics which supports self-sustained oscillations. Our mechanism relies on a nuclear spin analog of the tunneling magnetoresistance phenomenon (spin-dependent tunneling rates in the presence of an inhomogeneous Overhauser field) and nuclear spin diffusion, which governs dynamics of the spatial profile of nuclear polarization. The proposed framework naturally explains the differences in phenomenology between vertical and lateral quantum dot structures as well as the extremely long oscillation periods.