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Title: Quantum mechanics of topological solitons
Author: Weir, David J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2713 4586
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2011
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Topological solitons - are of broad interest in physics. They are objects with localised energy and stability ensured by their topological properties. It is possible to create them during phase transitions which break some sym- metry in a frustrated system. They are ubiquitous in condensed matter, ranging from monopole excitations in spin ices to vortices in superconduc- tors. In such situations, their behaviour has been extensively studied. Less well understood and yet equally interesting are the symmetry-breaking phase transitions that could produce topological defects is the early universe. Grand unified theories generically admit the creation of cosmic strings and monopoles, amongst other objects. There is no reason to expect that the behaviour of such objects should be classical or, indeed, supersymmetric, so to fully understand the behaviour of these theories it is necessary to study the quantum properties of the associated topological defects. Unfortunately, the standard analytical tools for studying quantum field theory - including perturbation theory - do not work so well when applied to topological defects. Motivated by this realisation, this thesis presents numerical techniques for the study of topological solitons in quantum field theory. Calculations are carried out nonperturbatively within the framework of lattice Monte Carlo simulations. Methods are demonstrated which use correlation functions to study the mass, interaction form factors, dispersion relations and excitations of quantum topological solitons. Results are compared to exact expressions obtained from integrability, and to previous work using less sophisticated numerical techniques. The techniques developed are applied to the prototypical kink soliton and to the 't Hooft-Polyakov monopole.
Supervisor: Rajantie, Arttu Sponsor: Science and Technology Facilities Council ; Royal Society ; Imperial College Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral