Quantum Phase Transitions

Lecture (MVSpec)

Thomas Gasenzer

Tuesday, 11:15-13:00; Thursday, 11:15-13:00; (starting on 21/04) INF 227 (KIP), SR 1.403+4. [LSF]  

Lecture format: In this lecture, I plan to make extensive use of online material (videos, quizzes, script), combining it with two on-site sessions per week of 1,5 hrs each (times as indicated above). Registered participants gain access to this material via the internal webpage of the lecture and are asked to prepare for each on-site lecture session, starting with that on Thu, 21/04. The on-site sessions will then serve to discuss further details, the solutions to the quiz questions as well as a further deepening of the subject matter.

Therefore, registration in the exercise system will be required in order to be able to take part in the course. I will send more details to registered participants by email.

Exercises: Tutor: Ido Siovitz

Register and view group list and further information, and download material here.
Classes take place on Fridays, 14:15-15:45 hrs, starting on 06/05: INF 308, HS 2 (new room!).

The lecture course provides an introduction to the theory of classical and quantum phase transitions, to position-space as well as Wilson renormalisation-group theory. Emphasis will be set on broadly used spin models as well as bosonic field theories relevant in particular for applications in the field of ultracold atomic gases. Methodologically, the lecture will build on the basics of the operator as well as the path-integral approach to quantum field theory. Basic knowledge 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 21/22 is 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 (pdf online) ]
  • 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 HS 2, INF 308, starting on 06/05/22. (Please register here, where also the problem sets will be available for download.)

Credit Points:

Passing the written exam, which will take place, prospectively, on 26/07/2022, 11:15-13:15 hrs, SR 1.403+4, will be the condition to obtain 8 CPs for the lecture.