Magnetic quivers and Higgs mechanism

*Antoine Bourget, theoretical physicist at the IPhT, at work on quivers. (Credits: IPhT / R. Guida).*

An international research team, including Antoine Bourget (IPhT, CEA Saclay), Marcus Sperling (University of Vienna) and Zhenghao Zhong (University of Oxford), has captured the interest of the scientific community with innovative results in quantum field theory (QFT). Their study reinterprets and generalizes the Higgs mechanism, responsible for elementary particle mass and phase transitions, using the concept of magnetic quivers. The work is published in the prestigious scientific journal *Physical Review Letters* [1].

A *quiver* is a graph made up of nodes and arrows connecting them. The arrows represent quantum fields, while the nodes symbolize the interactions (strong, weak or electromagnetic) between the fields. This reformulation makes it possible to analyze the properties of QFTs using the formalism of string and brane theory.

In this study, stable ground states (quantum vacuums, i.e. minimum-energy configurations) in a family of supersymmetric QFTs were explored. These theories serve as a laboratory, resembling real physical systems but facilitating mathematical calculations. The concept of a magnetic quiver allows a precise geometric description of quantum vacua, in terms of mathematical objects called "*symplectic singularities*". The authors have demonstrated that a magnetic quiver can disintegrate into a more stable state or fission into two distinct quivers, offering a new understanding of the Higgs mechanism, and highlighting new incarnations of this mechanism.

Mathematically, the "*decay and fission*" algorithm is based on algebraic principles and a clear definition of stability. It operates autonomously, and thus enables the prediction of new types of phase transitions. These results, relevant to both physics and mathematics, offer a fundamental and universal description of the complex structures of quantum vacuums. In addition, applications in algebraic geometry, for the classification of symplectic singularities, have already been obtained, and work is underway with a team of mathematicians to explore this method further, illustrating the natural and fruitful interaction between fundamental physics and mathematics.

[1] Antoine Bourget et al., Decay and Fission of Magnetic Quivers, Physical Review Letters (2024). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.132.221603

Highlights: phys.org/news/2024-06-reinterpreting-higgs-mechanism-decay-fission.html

R. Guida, 2024-06-28 19:15:00