Aspects of Higher-Abelian Gauge Theories at zero and finite temperature

Gerald Kelnhofer

Higher-abelian gauge theories associated with Cheeger-Simons differential characters are studied on compact manifolds without boundary. The paper consists of two parts: First the functional integral formulation based on zeta function regularization is revisited and extended in order to provide a general framework for further applications. A field theoretical model - called extended higher-abelian Maxwell theory - is introduced, which is a higher-abelian version of Maxwell theory of electromagnetism extended by a particular topological action. This action is parametrized by two non-dynamical harmonic forms and generalizes the $\theta$-term in usual gauge theories. In the second part the general framework is applied to study the topological Casimir effect in higher-abelian gauge theories at finite temperature at equilibrium. The extended higher-abelian Maxwell theory is discussed in detail and an exact expression for the free energy is derived. A non-trivial topology of the background space-time modifies the spectrum of both the zero-point fluctuations and the occupied states forming the thermal ensemble. The vacuum (Casimir) energy has two contributions: one related to the propagating modes and the second one related to the topologically inequivalent configurations of higher-abelian gauge fields. In the high temperature limit the leading term is of Stefan-Boltzmann type and the topological contributions are suppressed. With a particular choice of parameters extended higher-abelian Maxwell theories of different degrees are shown to be dual. On the $n$-dimensional torus we provide explicit expressions for the thermodynamic functions in the low- and high temperature regimes, respectively. Finally, the impact of the background topology on the two-point correlation function of a higher-abelian variant of the Polyakov loop operator is analyzed.

Particle Physics
External organisation(s)
Universität Wien
Nuclear Physics, Section B
No. of pages
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
103012 High energy physics
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