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Journal Article

Nonequilibrium self-energy functional theory

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Hofmann, F., Eckstein, M., Arrigoni, E., & Potthoff, M. (2013). Nonequilibrium self-energy functional theory. Physical Review B, 88(16): 165124. doi:10.1103/PhysRevB.88.165124.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0028-1653-0
The self-energy functional theory (SFT) is generalized to describe the real-time dynamics of correlated lattice-fermion models far from thermal equilibrium. This is achieved by starting from a reformulation of the original equilibrium theory in terms of double-time Green's functions on the Keldysh-Matsubara contour. With the help of a generalized Luttinger-Ward functional, we construct a functional Ω[Σ] which is stationary at the physical (nonequilibrium) self-energy Σ and which yields the grand potential of the initial thermal state Ω at the physical point. Nonperturbative approximations can be defined by specifying a reference system that serves to generate trial self-energies. These self-energies are varied by varying the reference system's one-particle parameters on the Keldysh-Matsubara contour. In the case of thermal equilibrium, this approach reduces to the conventional SFT. Contrary to the equilibrium theory, however, “unphysical” variations, i.e., variations that are different on the upper and the lower branches of the Keldysh contour, must be considered to fix the time dependence of the optimal physical parameters via the variational principle. Functional derivatives in the nonequilibrium SFT Euler equation are carried out analytically to derive conditional equations for the variational parameters that are accessible to a numerical evaluation via a time-propagation scheme. Approximations constructed by means of the nonequilibrium SFT are shown to be inherently causal, internally consistent, and to respect macroscopic conservation laws resulting from gauge symmetries of the Hamiltonian. This comprises the nonequilibrium dynamical mean-field theory but also dynamical-impurity and variational-cluster approximations that are specified by reference systems with a finite number of degrees of freedom. In this way, nonperturbative and consistent approximations can be set up, the numerical evaluation of which is accessible to an exact-diagonalization approach.