The complete scientific publication portal
Managed by professional scientists
For open, global and perpetual access to science
Jérôme Dubail, Jean-Marie Stéphan, Jacopo Viti, Pasquale Calabrese
SciPost Phys. 2, 002 (2017) · published 13 February 2017
Conformal field theory (CFT) has been extremely successful in describing large-scale universal effects in one-dimensional (1D) systems at quantum critical points. Unfortunately, its applicability in condensed matter physics has been limited to situations in which the bulk is uniform because CFT describes low-energy excitations around some energy scale, taken to be constant throughout the system. However, in many experimental contexts, such as quantum gases in trapping potentials and in several out-of-equilibrium situations, systems are strongly inhomogeneous. We show here that the powerful CFT methods can be extended to deal with such 1D situations, providing a few concrete examples for non-interacting Fermi gases. The system's inhomogeneity enters the field theory action through parameters that vary with position; in particular, the metric itself varies, resulting in a CFT in curved space. This approach allows us to derive exact formulas for entanglement entropies which were not known by other means.