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Quantum fluctuations and criticality of interacting Dirac fermions

Christou, Elliot; (2019) Quantum fluctuations and criticality of interacting Dirac fermions. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This Thesis explores the formation of novel phases in Dirac systems that are driven by strong many-body interactions and collective quantum fluctuations. The central focus is the half-filled honeycomb lattice, which is the prototypical Dirac semimetal with low-energy excitations described by Dirac fermions. Of particular interest are exotic phases of matter that are not favoured at mean-field but are stabilised by fluctuations. Self-consistent path integral techniques are used to demonstrate that extended repulsive interactions favour charge order that breaks translational and other lattice symmetries. This charge order outcompetes interaction induced topological insulating phases, which are dominant at the mean-field level. The interacting quantum critical point was found to be near the critical point of a topological Lifshitz transition. Interacting Dirac fermions exhibit perhaps the simplest example of fermionic quantum criticality. Gross-Neveu-Yukawa field theories describe the universality class of semimetal-insulator transitions, which are driven by on-site and nearest neighbour repulsive interactions on the honeycomb lattice. The Dirac fermions couple to the dynamical order parameter fields and play a crucial role in determining the universal behaviour. Naturally, this variety of criticality is outside of the Ginzburg-Landau-Wilson paradigm. This idea is extended to include the translational symmetry breaking charge order. Here it is found that the breaking of crystal symmetries corresponds to Lorentz violating effective field theories. The criticality is analysed with the renormalisation group. The low energy excitations at the topological transition are gapless semi-Dirac fermionic quasiparticles that disperse linearly in one direction and quadratically in the other. The instabilities induced by generic short-range repulsions are investigated. The criticality of this anisotropic system is analysed with the renormalisation group in two spatial dimensions, and it is found to exhibit anisotropic order parameter correlations.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Quantum fluctuations and criticality of interacting Dirac fermions
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > London Centre for Nanotechnology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10083393
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