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Topological Frustration can modify the nature of a Quantum Phase Transition

Vanja Marić, Gianpaolo Torre, Fabio Franchini, Salvatore Marco Giampaolo

SciPost Phys. 12, 075 (2022) · published 24 February 2022

Abstract

Ginzburg-Landau theory of continuous phase transitions implicitly assumes that microscopic changes are negligible in determining the thermodynamic properties of the system. In this work we provide an example that clearly contrasts with this assumption. We show that topological frustration can change the nature of a second order quantum phase transition separating two different ordered phases. Even more remarkably, frustration is triggered simply by a suitable choice of boundary conditions in a 1D chain. While with every other BC each of two phases is characterized by its own local order parameter, with frustration no local order can survive. We construct string order parameters to distinguish the two phases, but, having proved that topological frustration is capable of altering the nature of a system's phase transition, our results pose a clear challenge to the current understanding of phase transitions in complex quantum systems.

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