Gauge theories and topological phases play a fundamental role in different areas of physics. The first ones are at the basis of the Standard Model in the field of particle physics, describing the electroweak and strong interactions through a nonAbelian gauge theory. In condensed matter and statistical physics, gauge theories arise as lowenergy effective descriptions of strongly correlated phenomena, such as quantum spin liquids and quantum Hall effect. In this realm there is a strong connection with topological phases and order, as emergent gauge fermions and bosons often describe collective excitations of new exotic states of matter of spin models. The discretization on a lattice is a possible way of dealing with the strongly coupled nature of these theories, due to the fact that this formulation at finite volume provides natural regularizing cutoffs, i.e. the lattice size and spacing. This allows for the investigation of different nonperturbative properties both numerically and analytically. Despite the success of these methods, there are various aspects which remain intractable due to the sign or complex action problems, like the out of equilibrium real time evolution or the analysis of quantum chromodynamics with finite chemical potential. In this respect, quantum simulators of manybody systems to simulate high energy physics arise as promising alternatives to face these problems in the near future. They are quantum systems that can be controlled and used to simulate more complicated systems, whose properties could not be analysed with classical computational, experimental or theoretical tools. In the last decades, there has been a huge development in the fields of quantum optics and atomic physics, allowing for the realization highly precise and controllable platforms by means of trapped ions, superconducting circuits, Rydberg atoms and ultracold atoms in optical lattices. This work of Thesis is part of these fields and has different purposes, all of them connected with the study of gauge theories and topological phases. Firstly, we want to develop a reformulation of lattice gauge theories in terms of gauge invariant fields, in a way to deal solely with physical variables directly in the action. Among several possible advantages, a crucial point is that this can be particularly helpful for the construction of consistent approximation schemes, such as meanfield theories, in order to understand and capture some of the physical features of the theory and make the meanfield approximation consistent with the Elitzur theorem, stating that a local gauge symmetry can not be spontaneously broken. As a second point, we face the problem of simulating higher dimensional gauge theories with ultracold atoms. One of the challenges in more than one dimension is indeed the realization of plaquette interaction terms in the Hamiltonian of lattice gauge theories: these can be engineered through four correlated hoppings in perturbation theory, or by means of constrained hoppings in the dual formulation. In this respect, our main target is to set up an ultracold atomic platform generating the plaquette term in two dimensions using only two correlated hoppings, and protecting gauge invariance through angular momentum conservation. The last point we address in the Thesis is related to the analysis of particles moving in static background gauge potentials, i.e. when the considered gauge field has no dynamical term in the action of the system. Indeed, the dynamics of quantum particles in the presence of static gauge fields gives rise to intriguing physical phenomena. In particular, using ultracold atom setups, the realization of artificial gauge potentials can be used to investigate the physics of topological semimetals, such as Weyl or Dirac type. In the last ten years, a lot of attention has been paid to their characterization, due to the appearence of clear theoretical predictions and very wellcontrolled experimental techniques. We investigate here the relation between topological phase transitions and van Hove singularities, i.e. the discontinuities in the energy derivative of the density of states, in threedimensional gapless systems. In such materials, topological phase transitions can be defined by changes of the topological invariants of the Fermi sheets, happening at specific singular points. Moreover, Fermi surface singularities result in the presence of the socalled van Hove points. We then present a general argument to relate topological phase transitions and van Hove singularities, and show observable consequences that are related to the transport properties of the system. We exemplify our argument in Weyl systems by analyzing the threedimensional Hofstadter model for various commensurate fluxes, which offers the opportunity to consider different kinds of Weyl metals and to understand the features of their density of states.
Quantum simulations of gauge theories and topological phases / Fontana, Pierpaolo.  (2022 Sep 29).
Quantum simulations of gauge theories and topological phases
FONTANA, PIERPAOLO
2022
Abstract
Gauge theories and topological phases play a fundamental role in different areas of physics. The first ones are at the basis of the Standard Model in the field of particle physics, describing the electroweak and strong interactions through a nonAbelian gauge theory. In condensed matter and statistical physics, gauge theories arise as lowenergy effective descriptions of strongly correlated phenomena, such as quantum spin liquids and quantum Hall effect. In this realm there is a strong connection with topological phases and order, as emergent gauge fermions and bosons often describe collective excitations of new exotic states of matter of spin models. The discretization on a lattice is a possible way of dealing with the strongly coupled nature of these theories, due to the fact that this formulation at finite volume provides natural regularizing cutoffs, i.e. the lattice size and spacing. This allows for the investigation of different nonperturbative properties both numerically and analytically. Despite the success of these methods, there are various aspects which remain intractable due to the sign or complex action problems, like the out of equilibrium real time evolution or the analysis of quantum chromodynamics with finite chemical potential. In this respect, quantum simulators of manybody systems to simulate high energy physics arise as promising alternatives to face these problems in the near future. They are quantum systems that can be controlled and used to simulate more complicated systems, whose properties could not be analysed with classical computational, experimental or theoretical tools. In the last decades, there has been a huge development in the fields of quantum optics and atomic physics, allowing for the realization highly precise and controllable platforms by means of trapped ions, superconducting circuits, Rydberg atoms and ultracold atoms in optical lattices. This work of Thesis is part of these fields and has different purposes, all of them connected with the study of gauge theories and topological phases. Firstly, we want to develop a reformulation of lattice gauge theories in terms of gauge invariant fields, in a way to deal solely with physical variables directly in the action. Among several possible advantages, a crucial point is that this can be particularly helpful for the construction of consistent approximation schemes, such as meanfield theories, in order to understand and capture some of the physical features of the theory and make the meanfield approximation consistent with the Elitzur theorem, stating that a local gauge symmetry can not be spontaneously broken. As a second point, we face the problem of simulating higher dimensional gauge theories with ultracold atoms. One of the challenges in more than one dimension is indeed the realization of plaquette interaction terms in the Hamiltonian of lattice gauge theories: these can be engineered through four correlated hoppings in perturbation theory, or by means of constrained hoppings in the dual formulation. In this respect, our main target is to set up an ultracold atomic platform generating the plaquette term in two dimensions using only two correlated hoppings, and protecting gauge invariance through angular momentum conservation. The last point we address in the Thesis is related to the analysis of particles moving in static background gauge potentials, i.e. when the considered gauge field has no dynamical term in the action of the system. Indeed, the dynamics of quantum particles in the presence of static gauge fields gives rise to intriguing physical phenomena. In particular, using ultracold atom setups, the realization of artificial gauge potentials can be used to investigate the physics of topological semimetals, such as Weyl or Dirac type. In the last ten years, a lot of attention has been paid to their characterization, due to the appearence of clear theoretical predictions and very wellcontrolled experimental techniques. We investigate here the relation between topological phase transitions and van Hove singularities, i.e. the discontinuities in the energy derivative of the density of states, in threedimensional gapless systems. In such materials, topological phase transitions can be defined by changes of the topological invariants of the Fermi sheets, happening at specific singular points. Moreover, Fermi surface singularities result in the presence of the socalled van Hove points. We then present a general argument to relate topological phase transitions and van Hove singularities, and show observable consequences that are related to the transport properties of the system. We exemplify our argument in Weyl systems by analyzing the threedimensional Hofstadter model for various commensurate fluxes, which offers the opportunity to consider different kinds of Weyl metals and to understand the features of their density of states.File  Dimensione  Formato  

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