Questions tagged [condensed-matter]

The study of physical properties of condensed phases of matter, including solids and liquids.

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69
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11answers
11k views

What is spontaneous symmetry breaking in QUANTUM systems?

Most descriptions of spontaneous symmetry breaking, even for spontaneous symmetry breaking in quantum systems, actually only give a classical picture. According to the classical picture, spontaneous ...
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What challenges needed to be overcome to create (blue) LEDs?

In light of today's announcement of the 2014 Nobel laureates, and because of a discussion among colleagues about the physical significance of these devices, let me ask: What is the physical ...
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Why do we expect our theories to be independent of cutoffs?

Final edit: I think I pretty much understand now (touch wood)! But there's one thing I don't get. What's the physical reason for expecting the correlation functions to be independent of the cutoff? I....
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Why are relativistic quantum field theories so much more restrictive than non-relativistic ones?

Part of the reason that relativistic QFT is so hard to learn is that there are piles of 'no-go theorems' that rule out simple physical examples and physical intuition. A very common answer to the ...
43
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What does it mean for a Hamiltonian or system to be gapped or gapless?

I've read some papers recently that talk about gapped Hamiltonians or gapless systems, but what does it mean? Edit: Is an XX spin chain in a magnetic field gapped? Why or why not?
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Do photons gain mass when they travel through glass?

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that photons slow down when travelling through glass. Does this mean they gain mass? Otherwise, what happens to extra kinetic energy? I understand now ...
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4answers
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Good reading on the Keldysh formalism

I'd like some suggestions for good reading materials on the Keldysh formalism in the condensed matter physics community. I'm familiar with the imaginary time, coherent state, and path integral ...
38
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4answers
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What's the rigorous definition of phase and phase transition?

I always feel unsure about the definitions of phase and phase transition. First, let's discuss in Laudau's paradigm. For example, some people say that phase is classified by symmetry. Some people say ...
36
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5answers
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A pedestrian explanation of conformal blocks

I would be very happy if someone could take a stab at conveying what conformal blocks are and how they are used in conformal field theory (CFT). I'm finally getting the glimmerings of understanding ...
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Books for Condensed Matter after Ashcroft/Mermin

What are some good condensed matter physics books that can fill the gap between Ashcroft & Mermin and research papers? Suggestions for any specialized topics (such as superconductivity, CFT, ...
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2answers
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What is a $p_x + i p_y$ superconductor? Relation to topological superconductors

I often read about s-wave and p-wave superconductors. In particular a $p_x + i p_y$ superconductor - often mentioned in combination with topological superconductors. I understand that the overall ...
32
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1answer
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Periodic vs Open boundary conditions

In condensed matter, people often use periodic boundary conditions to perform calculations about bulk properties of a material. It's generally argued that in the $N\rightarrow\infty$ limit the ...
30
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1answer
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Emergent symmetries

As we know, spontaneous symmetry breaking(SSB) is a very important concept in physics. Loosely speaking, zero temprature SSB says that the Hamiltonian of a quantum system has some symmetry, but the ...
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3answers
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Renormalization Group for non-equilibrium

For equilibrium/ground state systems, a (Wilson) renormalization group transformation produces a series of systems (flow of Hamiltonians/couplings $H_{\Lambda}$ where $\Lambda$ is the cut-off) such ...
28
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2answers
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Basic questions in Majorana fermions

Why any fermion can be written as a combination of two Majorana fermions? Is there any physical meaning in it? Why Majorana fermion can be used for topological quantum computation?
28
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2answers
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Kubo Formula for Quantum Hall Effect

I'm trying to understand the Kubo Formula for the electrical conductivity in the context of the Quantum Hall Effect. My problem is that several papers, for instance the famous TKNN (1982) paper, or ...
27
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3answers
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How does electricity propagate in a conductor?

On a systems level, I understand that as electrons are pushed into a wire, there is a net field and a net electron velocity. And I've read that the net electron drift is slow. But electricity ...
26
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Reconciling topological insulators and topological order

We make an important distinction between the topological insulators (which are essentially uncorrelated band insulators, "with a twist") and topological order (which covers a variety of exotic ...
26
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1answer
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How Fundamental is Spin-Orbit Coupling to Topological Insulators?

I'm well aware this is a very active area of research so the best answer one can give to this question may be incomplete. Topological states in condensed matter are well-known, even if not always ...
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Simple models that exhibit topological phase transitions

There are a number of physical systems with phases described by topologically protected invariants (fractional quantum Hall, topological insulators) but what are the simplest mathematical models that ...
23
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Are elementary particles actually more elementary than quasiparticles?

Quarks and leptons are considered elementary particles, while phonons, holes, and solitons are quasiparticles. In light of emergent phenomena, such as fractionally charged particles in fractional ...
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Is the speed of sound almost as high as the speed of light in neutron stars?

Have you ever wondered about the elastic properties of neutron stars? Such stars, being immensely dense, in which neutrons are bound together by the strong nuclear force on top of the strong gravity ...
23
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1answer
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What is many body localization?

Is there any good definition of many body localization? It is the property of one state or it is the property of a Hamiltonian? Why does disorder play an important role in many body localization? ...
23
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1answer
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Why do quasicrystals have well-defined Fourier transforms?

I was recently reading about quasicrystals, and I was really surprised to learn that even though they do not have a periodic structure, and only have long range order in a very different sense to the ...
22
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Understanding time crystals

In very recent publications, two groups in Maryland (paper: "Observation of a Discrete Time Crystal") and Harvard (paper: "Observation of discrete time-crystalline order in a disordered dipolar many-...
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Why don't free electrons escape from a conductor?

The thermal velocity of the free electron in a metallic conductor varies from $10^5\ \mathrm{m/s}$ to $10^6\ \mathrm{m/s}$. In spite of high velocity, free electrons fail to escape from the metallic ...
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Why don't free electrons fall from metals if shaken?

This is a question we were asked at a physics lecture.
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Is there an algebraic approach for the topological boundary (defect) states?

There are many free fermion systems that possess topological edge/boundary states. Examples include quantum Hall insulators and topological insulators. No matter chiral or non-chiral, 2D or 3D, ...
21
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1answer
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What're the relations and differences between slave-fermion and slave-boson formalism?

As we know, in condensed matter theory, especially in dealing with strongly correlated systems, physicists have constructed various "peculiar" slave-fermion and slave-boson theories. For example, For ...
21
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Why does water ($\mathrm{H_2O}$) only have two distinct fluid phases?

Water (and other substances) can exist in many distinct solid phases (with different crystallic micro-structure), but only in two fluid phases - liquid and gaseous, in which the molecules are oriented ...
21
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4answers
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Quantum Hall effect for dummies

In the past few days I've become increasingly intrigued by the QHE, mainly thanks to very interesting questions and answers that have appeared here. Unfortunately, I am as of yet very confused by all ...
21
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3answers
780 views

How to understand topological order at finite temperature?

I have heard that in 2+1D, there are no topological order in finite temperature. Topological entanglement entropy $\gamma$ is zero except in zero temperature. However, we still observe some features ...
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What observables are indicative of BCS Cooper pair condensation?

What observables are indicative of BCS Cooper pair condensation? "Thought" experiments and "numerical" experiments are allowed. This question is motivated by the question Has BCS Cooper pair ...
20
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Why are there chiral edge states in the quantum hall effect?

The most popular explanation for the existence of chiral edge states is probably the following: in a magnetic field, electrons move in cyclotron orbits, and such such cyclotron orbits ensure electrons ...
20
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2answers
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Edge theory of FQHE - Unable to produce Green's function from anticommutation relations and equation of motion?

I'm studying the edge theory of the fractional quantum Hall effect (FQHE) and I've stumbled on a peculiar contradiction concerning the bosonization procedure which I am unable to resolve. Help! In ...
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3answers
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How to rigorously argue that the superposition state is unstable in spontaneously symmetry breaking case

In quantum mechanics, the definition of symmetry breaking is nontrivial. See What is spontaneous symmetry breaking in QUANTUM systems? Let me briefly summarize that question: In spin-$1/2$ quantum ...
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2answers
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Spontaneous Time Reversal Symmetry Breaking?

It is known that you can break P spontaneously--- look at any chiral molecule for an example. Spontaneous T breaking is harder for me to visualize. Is there a well known condensed matter system which ...
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3answers
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Shine a light into a superconductor

A type-I superconductor can expel almost all magnetic flux (below some critical value $H_c$) from its interior when superconducting. Light as we know is an electromagnetic wave. So what would happen ...
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2answers
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Literature on fractal properties of quasicrystals

At the seminar where the talk was about quasicrystals, I mentioned that some results on their properties remind the fractals. The person who gave the talk was not too fluent in a rigor mathematics ...
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1answer
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How does Haldane conjecture follow from the topological $\Theta$ term

The one dimensional SU(2) Heisenberg quantum spin chain is known to be described by the 1+1d O(3) nonlinear $\sigma$ model with a $\Theta$ term, following the action $$S=\int\mathrm{d}^2x\frac{1}{g}(\...
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What is the Kosterlitz -Thouless transition?

I couldn't find any simple texts explaining the Kosterlitz-Thouless transition. More specifically can someone explain the role of vortices in the transition. edit: links explaining the transition in ...
18
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For lattice, what are the Goldstone bosons for the broken rotation symmetries?

In $1$ dimension, we know that lattice breaks continuous translational symmetry into discrete translational symmetry, which generates $1$ Goldstone boson, i.e. $1$ longitudinal phonons. In $d$ ...
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Confusion about duality transformation in 1+1D Ising model in a transverse field

In 1+1D Ising model with a transverse field defined by the Hamiltonian \begin{equation} H(J,h)=-J\sum_i\sigma^z_i\sigma_{i+1}^z-h\sum_i\sigma_i^x \end{equation} There is a duality transformation which ...
18
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2answers
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How to understand the emergent special relativity in the superfluid?

The superfluid vacuum theory was proposed to understand some features of the vacuum (aether) from the emergence point of view. Although made up of non-relativistic atoms, the low-energy excitations of ...
18
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Are fermions intrinsically non-local?

Background: When one studies quantum mechanics of more than one particle, one learns that all fundamental particles can be classified as either bosonic or fermionic. Fermions have a spinor structure, ...
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Symmetry Breaking And Phase transition

Is every phase transition associated with a symmetry breaking? If yes, what is the symmetry that a gaseous phase have but the liquid phase does not? What is the extra symmetry that normal $\bf He$ has ...
18
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1answer
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Quasi 1D insulators with strong spin-orbital interaction

We know that the spin-1 chain realizes the Haldane phase which is an example of symmetry protected topological (SPT) phases (ie short-range entangled phases with symmetry). The Haldane phase is ...
17
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3answers
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What happens to the resistance of a wire if it is heated up?

We had a little discussion in the physics class. We were talking about resistance, and she said that when a wire is heated up, the resistance also increases; but I think that the resistance decreases ...
17
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What happens when we cut objects?

What is the role of the molecular bonds in the process of cutting something? What is the role of the Pauli exclusion principle, responsible for the "hardness" of matter? Moreover, is all the energy ...
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1answer
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Quantum dimension in topological entanglement entropy

In 2D the entanglement entropy of a simply connected region goes like \begin{align} S_L \to \alpha L - \gamma + \cdots, \end{align} where $\gamma$ is the topological entanglement entropy. $\gamma$ is ...