Disorder in holographic field theories: inhomogeneous geometries, momentum relaxation and SYK models


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Holographic dualities are now an established tool in the study of universal properties of strongly coupled field theories. Yet, theories without translational symmetry are still poorly understood in this context. In this dissertation, we investigate three new approaches to this challenging problem.

The first part of the dissertation concerns a class of phenomenological holographic models in which momentum relaxation can be achieved without breaking translational symmetry in the dual geometry. In particular, we focus on an example in which the dual geometry is similar to anti-de Sitter (AdS) Brans-Dicke theory. We study the thermodynamic and transport properties of the model and show that for strong momentum relaxation and low temperatures the model has insulator-like behaviour.

In the second part, we go beyond the effective description and consider holographic theories which explicitly break translational symmetry. From the perspective of gravity, these theories translate to geometries that vary explicitly in the boundary space-like coordinates. We refer to these geometries as 'inhomogeneous' and investigate two approaches to study them. The first is motivated by the question: "what happens to a homogeneous geometry when coupled with a field varying randomly in space?". Starting from an AdS geometry at zero or finite temperature, we show that a spatially varying random Maxwell potential drives the dual field theory to a non-trivial infra-red fixed point characterised by an emerging scale invariance. Thermodynamic and transport properties of this disordered ground state are also discussed. The second is motivated by the complementary question: "how does a random geometry affect a probe field?". In the weak disorder limit, we show that disorder induces an additional power-law decay in the dual correlation functions. For certain choices of geometry profile, this contribution becomes dominant in the infra-red, indicating the breaking of perturbation theory and the possible existence of a phase transition induced by disorder.

The third and last part of this dissertation switches from the gravity to the field theoretical side of the duality. We discuss the Sachdev-Ye-Kitaev (SYK) model, a disordered many-body model with distinctive black hole-like properties. We provide analytical and numerical evidence that these holographic properties are robust against a natural one-body deformation for a finite range of parameters. Outside this interval, this system undergoes a chaotic-integrable transition.

Miguel García-García, Antonio
Artacho, Emilio
holography, disorder, gauge-gravity duality, theoretical physics
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge
Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) Cambridge Overseas Trust (COT)