PhD in theoretical physics: inhomogeneous systems out of equilibrium (M/W)

Updated: 6 months ago
Location: Tremblay en France, LE DE FRANCE
Deadline: 15 Apr 2019

This thesis is funded for 3 years by an ERC project led by Maurizio FAGOTTI. The student will work under his supervision and s/he will benefit from the stimulating research environment of the "Laboratoire de Physique Théorique et Modèles Statistiques" (LPTMS). The laboratory (founded in 1998) is a joint research unit between CNRS and Paris-Sud University, and it hosts about fifty researchers. The research topics are focussed on statistical physics with openings to the physics of condensed matter.
Being a joint research unit between CNRS and Paris-Sud University, the laboratory has access to computing facilities such us the Paris-Sud “computing mesocenter”, and, for large scale computations, national facilities such as IDRIS.

A fundamental concept in statistical physics is that the equilibrium properties of systems with a huge number of degrees of freedom can be described by few parameters, first and foremost the temperature. The latter can be tuned to modify the physical properties, and even the forms in which matter manifests itself, so-called phases of matter (e.g. solid, liquid, etc.). This generally requires a global control of the system, but there are also situations in which a local perturbation is sufficient to induce a phase transition. For example, pure water can be supercooled below its normal freezing point, remaining liquid; it is then sufficient to put the liquid in contact with a small piece of ice to induce global freezing.

When the system is not at equilibrium, its description becomes more complicated; nevertheless, a statistical description was shown to emerge when a quantum many-body system, isolated from the rest, is left to evolve for a long time. Being isolated, the system can not relax to an equilibrium state, but, when scrutinised locally, it appears as if it were prepared at an effective temperature or in some exotic state of matter. Arguably, the best understood situation is a quantum quench of a global parameter in a translationally invariant quantum many-body system.

In this thesis we will go beyond the assumption of translational invariance, studying the effects of inhomogeneities on the nonequilibrium dynamics after quantum quenches.

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