Symmetry protection of critical phases and global anomaly in 1+1 dimensions

Speaker: Prof. Masaki Oshikawa, University of Tokyo

When: March 18, 2015 (Wed), 11:00AM to 12:00PM (add to my calendar)
Location: SCI 328
Hosted by: Claudio Chamon

This event is part of the Condensed Matter Theory Seminar Series.

Abstract: Classification of gapless quantum phases remains very much open. Symmetries are naturally expected to play an important role here, as in the case of gapped quantum phases. In this talk, we argue that there is a protection of bulk gapless critical phases by discrete symmetry. This symmetry protection is analogous to that of the well-known (gapped) Symmetry-Protected Topological (SPT) phases; here we show that the concept can be generalized to bulk gapless critical phases. We demonstrate this for the SU(2)-symmetric quantum antiferromagnetic chains and their effective field theory, SU(2) Wess-Zumino-Witten (WZW) theory as an example. The SU(2) WZW theory is characterized by a natural number k, which is called level. In the presence of the SU(2) and a certain discrete Z$2$ symmetry of the WZW theory, which corresponds to the translation symmetry of the spin chain, we find that a renormalization-group (RG) flow is possible between SU(2) WZW theories only if the difference in the levels is even. That is, gapless critical phases in 1+1 dimension with the SU(2), the Z$2$, and the Lorentz symmetries are classified into the two "symmetry-protected'' categories: one corresponds to even levels and the other to odd levels.

(in collaboration with S. C. Furuya)