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Stress Tensor flows, birefringence in non-linear electrodynamics and supersymmetry

Christian Ferko, Liam Smith, Gabriele Tartaglino-Mazzucchelli

SciPost Phys. 15, 198 (2023) · published 21 November 2023


We identify the unique stress tensor deformation which preserves zero-birefringence conditions in non-linear electrodynamics, which is a $4d$ version of the $T\overline{T}$ operator. We study the flows driven by this operator in the three Lagrangian theories without birefringence - Born-Infeld, Plebanski, and reverse Born-Infeld - all of which admit ModMax-like generalizations using a root-$T\overline{T}$-like flow that we analyse in our paper. We demonstrate one way of making this root-$T\overline{T}$-like flow manifestly supersymmetric by writing the deforming operator in $\mathcal{N} = 1$ superspace and exhibit two examples of superspace flows. We present scalar analogues in $d = 2$ with similar properties as these theories of electrodynamics in $d = 4$. Surprisingly, the Plebanski-type theories are fixed points of the classical $T\overline{T}$-like flows, while the Born-Infeld-type examples satisfy new flow equations driven by relevant operators constructed from the stress tensor. Finally, we prove that any theory obtained from a classical stress-tensor-squared deformation of a conformal field theory gives rise to a related "subtracted" theory for which the stress-tensor-squared operator is a constant.

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