String-net condensation and topological phases in quantum spin systems
Author(s)Levin, Michael Aaron, Ph. D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Physics.
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For many years, it was thought that Landau's theory of symmetry breaking could describe essentially all phases and phase transitions. However, in the last twenty years, it has become clear that at zero temperature, quantum mechanics allows for the possibility of new phases of matter beyond the Landau paradigm. In this thesis, we develop a general theoretical framework for these "exotic phases" analogous to Landau's framework for symmetry breaking phases. We focus on a particular type of exotic phase, known as "topological phases", and a particular physical realization of topological phases - namely frustrated quantum magnets. Our approach is based on a new physical picture for topological phases. We argue that, just as symmetry breaking phases originate from the condensation of particles, topological phases originate from the condensation of extended objects called "string-nets." Using this picture we show that, just as symmetry breaking phases can be classified using symmetry groups, topological phases can be classified using objects known as "tensor categories."(cont.) In addition, just as symmetry breaking order manifests itself in local correlations in a ground state wave function, topological order manifests itself in nonlocal correlations or quantum entanglement. We introduce a new quantity - called "topological entropy" - which measures precisely this nonlocal entanglement. Many of our results are applicable to other (non-topological) exotic phases.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Physics, 2006.Includes bibliographical references (p. 81-86).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Physics.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology