Quantum Phase Transitions

Lecture (MVSpec)

Thomas Gasenzer

Tuesday, 11:15-13:00; Thursday, 11:15-13:00; (starting on 18/04) INF 227 (KIP), SR 3.403. [LSF]  

Tutor: Christian Schmied

Register and view group list here.
Classes take place on Fridays, 14:15-15:45 hrs, starting on 28/04: INF 227 (KIP), SR 1.404.

The lecture course provides an introduction to field theoretic methods for systems with many degrees of freedom. A focus will be set on quantum phase transitions, with special emphasis on applications to ultracold, mostly bosonic, atomic gases as they are the subject of many fore-front present-day experiments. The course will introduce to the basis of the theory of classical and quantum phase transitions, with a special emphasis on simple model applications. Methodologically, the lecture will build on the basics of the operator as well as the path-integral approach to quantum field theory. Knowledge of the basics of quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, and quantum field theory is presumed.


  1. Introduction
    - Classical phase transitions - phase diagram of water - Ehrenfest classification - continuous phase transitions - quantum phase transitions
  2. Phase transition in the classical Ising model
    - Ising Hamiltonian - Spontaneous symmetry breaking - Thermodynamic properties - Phase transitions in the Ising model - Landau mean-field theory - Mean-field critical exponents - Correlation functions - Hubbard Stratonovich transformation - Functional-integral representation - Ginzburg-Landau-Wilson functional - Saddlepoint approximation and Gaussian effective action - Ginzburg criterion
  3. Renormalisation-group theory in position space
    - Block-spin transformation - Transfer-matrix solution of the 1D Ising chain - RG stepping for the 1D and 2D Ising models - Critical point - RG fixed points - Relevant and irrelevant couplings - Universality and universality class - Renormalisation-group flows - Scaling properties of the free energy and of the two-point correlation function - Scaling relations between critical exponents - The scaling hypothesis
  4. Wilson's Renormalisation Group
    - Perturbation theory - Linked-Cluster and Wick's theorems - Dyson equation - One-loop critical properties - Dimensional analysis - Momentum-scale RG - Gaussian fixed point - Wilson-Fisher fixed point - Epsilon-expansion - Critical exponents - Wave function renormalisation and anomalous dimension - Suppl. Mat.: Asymptotic expansions
  5. Quantum phase transitions
    - Quantum Ising model - Mapping of the classical Ising chain to a quantum spin model - Universal scaling behaviour - Thermal as time-ordered correlators - Quantum to classical mapping - Perturbative spectrum of the transverse-field Ising model - Jordan Wigner transformation and exact spectrum - Universal crossover functions near the quantum critical point - Anomalous scaling dimension - Low-temperature and quantum critical regimes - Conformal mapping - Spectral properties close to criticality - Structure factor, susceptibility, and linear response - Relaxational response in the quantum critical regime


Skriptum :

  • The notes will available for download here.
  • The Script of the lecture on QFT of Many-Body Systems in WT 16/17 will be available here.


Textbooks on critical phenomena and (quantum) phase transitions

  • D. Belitz und T.R. Kirkpatrick, in J. Karkheck (Hrsg.), Dynamics: Models and kinetic methods for non-equilibrium many-body systems. Kluwer, Dordrecht (2000). [ Google books | HEIDI ]
  • John Cardy, Scaling and renormalization in statistical physics. CUP, Cambridge, 2003. [ Google books | HEIDI ]
  • Peter Kopietz, Lorenz Bartosch, Florian Schütz, Introduction to the Functional Renormalization Group. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, 2010. [ Google books | HEIDI (online) | Errata and Addenda ]
  • Lincoln D. Carr (Ed.), Understanding quantum phase transitions. CRC-Press, Boca Raton, 2011. [ Google books | HEIDI ]
  • Nigel Goldenfeld, Lectures on phase transitions and the renormalization group. Addison-Wesley, Reading, 1992. [ Google books | HEIDI ]
  • Igor Herbut, A modern approach to critical phenomena. CUP, Cambridge, 2007. [ Google books | HEIDI ]
  • Subir Sachdev, Quantum Phase Transitions. CUP, Cambridge, 2011. [ Google books | HEIDI (incl. online) ]
  • S. L. Sondhi, S. M. Girvin, J. P. Carini, and D. Shahar, Continuous quantum phase transitions. Rev. Mod. Phys. 69, 315 (1997). [ arXiv:cond-mat/9609279 ]
  • Jean Zinn-Justin, Quantum field theory and critical phenomena. Clarendon, Oxford, 2004. [ Google books | HEIDI ]

Reviews on critical phenomena and (quantum) phase transitions

General texts on statistical mechanics

  • Kerson Huang, Statistical Mechanics. Wiley, 1987. [ Google books | HEIDI ]
  • Linda E. Reichl, A Modern Course in Statistical Physics. Wiley Interscience, 2nd edition 1998. [ Google books (3rd ed.) | HEIDI ]
  • Frederick Reif, Fundamentals of Statistical and Thermal Physics McGraw-Hill, New York, 1987. [ Google books | HEIDI ]
  • Franz Schwabl, Statistische Mechanik. Springer, Heidelberg, 2000. [ Google books | HEIDI ]
  • M. Toda, R. Kubo, N. Saito, Statistical Physics, Equilibrium Statistical Mechanics, Springer, 2nd edition 1992. [ Google books | HEIDI ]

General texts on quantum field theory

  • Brian Hatfield, Quantum Field Theory of Point Particles and Strings. Addison Wesley, Oxford, 2010. [ Google books | HEIDI ]
  • Michael E. Peskin, Daniel V. Schroeder An introduction to quantum field theory. Westview, Boulder, 2006. [ Google books | HEIDI ]
  • Xiao-Gang Wen, Quantum Field Theory of Many-Body Systems. OUP, Oxford, 2010. [ Google books | HEIDI ]
Additional material


Exercises will be held in general (exceptions posted above) on Fridays, 14:15-15:45 hrs, in SR 1.404, INF 227 (KIP), starting on 28/04/17. Tutor: Christian Schmied (Please register here.)

The problem sets will available for download here.

Credit Points:

Problem sets must be handed in and will be marked. Achieving a minimum of 50% will be the condition to obtain 8 CPs for the lecture.