Free fermions at the edge of interacting systems

Jean-Marie Stéphan

SciPost Phys. 6, 057 (2019) · published 10 May 2019


We study the edge behavior of inhomogeneous one-dimensional quantum systems, such as Lieb-Liniger models in traps or spin chains in spatially varying magnetic fields. For free systems these fall into several universality classes, the most generic one being governed by the Tracy-Widom distribution. We investigate in this paper the effect of interactions. Using semiclassical arguments, we show that since the density vanishes to leading order, the strong interactions in the bulk are renormalized to zero at the edge, which simply explains the survival of Tracy-Widom scaling in general. For integrable systems, it is possible to push this argument further, and determine exactly the remaining length scale which controls the variance of the edge distribution. This analytical prediction is checked numerically, with excellent agreement. We also study numerically the edge scaling at fronts generated by quantum quenches, which provide new universality classes awaiting theoretical explanation.

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Edge states Free fermions Lieb-Liniger model Quantum quenches Quantum spin chains Tracy-Widom distribution

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