Boundary RG flows for fermions and the mod 2 anomaly

Philip Boyle Smith, David Tong

SciPost Phys. 10, 010 (2021) · published 19 January 2021


Boundary conditions for Majorana fermions in d=1+1 dimensions fall into one of two SPT phases, associated to a mod 2 anomaly. Here we consider boundary conditions for 2N Majorana fermions that preserve a $U(1)^N$ symmetry. In general, the left-moving and right-moving fermions carry different charges under this symmetry, and implementation of the boundary condition requires new degrees of freedom, which manifest themselves in a boundary central charge, $g$. We follow the boundary RG flow induced by turning on relevant boundary operators. We identify the infra-red boundary state. In many cases, the boundary state flips SPT class, resulting in an emergent Majorana mode needed to cancel the anomaly. We show that the ratio of UV and IR boundary central charges is given by $g^2_{IR} / g^2_{UV} = {\rm dim}\,({\cal O})$, the dimension of the perturbing boundary operator. Any relevant operator necessarily has ${\rm dim}({\cal O}) < 1$, ensuring that the central charge decreases in accord with the g-theorem.

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