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Spin Density Wave Instabilities in 2D Electron Gases

Spin Density Wave Instabilities in 2D Electron Gases

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Steven Thomson. Originally submitted for PH5102 Project in Theoretical Physics at University of St. Andrews, with lecturer Chris Hooley in the category of Mathematical & Physical Sciences
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Steven Thomson. Originally submitted for PH5102 Project in Theoretical Physics at University of St. Andrews, with lecturer Chris Hooley in the category of Mathematical & Physical Sciences

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
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12/15/2013

 
Spin Density Wave Instabilities in 2D Electron Gases
 
Contents
1 Background 11.1 Motivation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.2 What is a Phase Transition? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.3 What is a Quantum Critical Point? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.4 Order-by-Disorder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41.5 Spin Density Waves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Simple Phase Transitions 102.1 Ginzburg-Landau Expansion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102.2 The Stoner Transition for a Free Electron Gas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112.3 The Stoner Transition for a Tightly Bound Electron Gas . . . . . . . . . . 132.4 Gamma-Parameterised Nesting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173 Spin Density Waves 193.1 Diagonalising the Hamiltonian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193.2 Free Energy and the Ginzburg-Landau Expansion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 213.3 Expanding in Q . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 223.4 Magnetic Susceptability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 243.5 SDW Phase Diagrams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 263.6 Analytic Method Reprise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 284 Conclusions and Further Work 314.1 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 314.2 Future . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31References 32i
 
Abstract
Quantum phase transitions in 2D electron gases have become a highly active areaof interest over the past several years. The curious behaviour of low-dimensionalmetals at low temperatures has sparked a great deal of interest into the unusualphases being formed in such systems. This thesis deals with the formation of atype of spatially modulated magnetism known as a spin density wave, taking inthe standard Landau theory of phase transitions and the standard theory of Stonerferromagnetism along the way. Spin density waves have been of particular interestto the quantum condensed matter community of late due to the fact that they havebeen linked with the emergence of high-temperature superconductivity in the newiron-based superconductors. It is thought that if we can develop a thorough under-standing of the spin density wave state in these compounds, we could potentiallyopen an avenue towards understanding the formation of high-temperature supercon-ductivity, which has long been the Holy Grail of condensed matter research. If wecan master high-temperature superconductivity, we may even be able to design newmaterials which superconduct at temperatures as high as room-temperature, open-ing the floodgates to a whole new generation of technological advancement. The firststep on this journey will be the understanding of the spin density wave state itself;here, I present the development of a simple model system in which we can study theproperties of the spin-density wave state in a natural and transparent manner, andwhich can be extended at a later date to include more complex quantum-mechanicaleffects that may lead to the emergence of superconductivity.
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