Gauge/Gravity Duality and Condensed Matter Physics (16w5067)

Arriving in Banff, Alberta Sunday, February 28 and departing Friday March 4, 2016


Johanna Erdmenger (Max Planck Institute, Munich)

(University of British Columbia)


The objective of this five-day workshop is an intensive exchange of ideas between string theorists and condensed matter physicists in order to develop and consolidate the use of gauge/gravity duality for describing strongly coupled systems of relevance in condensed matter physics. Physical systems that may have dual holographic descriptions include quantum critical points, high-Tc superconductors, quantum Hall systems, systems that exhibit parity breaking, non-equilibrium configurations and quantum quenches, entanglement entropy, non-relativistic critical systems as well as fluid mechanics and turbulence.

We plan to investigate the application of holographic techniques to condensed matter systems in two and three dimensions, in particular to systems exhibiting quantum critical behaviour. The focus of this research is the understanding of strongly coupled non-Fermi liquid ground states and thermal states of interacting electrons. This addresses some of the most interesting challenges in condensed matter physics, which involve strongly interacting systems of fermions and other components. The difficulty is to understand `non-Fermi liquid' behaviour, which is widely believed to require physics going beyond weakly interacting fermions. Of particular interest are the thermodynamic and transport properties of the observed but unexplained `strange metal' phases of heavy fermion compounds and high temperature superconductors.

The workshop will have a focus on developing string theory holography as a tool for studying strongly coupled dynamical systems in nature. A range of systems will be discussed, with a view towards identifying questions where gauge/gravity duality techniques can be usefully applied. Conversely, by confronting gauge/gravity duality to the needs of condensed matter physics, we expect to clarify further aspects of its mathematical structure. This may lead to further insight into quantum gravity theories more generally.

The topic of gauge/gravity duality and condensed matter physics has attracted the attention of many young researchers world-wide, which will be reflected in talks by postdoctoral researchers at the workshop. We also put a focus on the active participation of female researchers in this emerging new research area.