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Journal Article

Diagnosing deconfinement and topological order


Moessner,  R.
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Max Planck Society;


Sondhi,  S. L.
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Max Planck Society;

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Gregor, K., Huse, D. A., Moessner, R., & Sondhi, S. L. (2011). Diagnosing deconfinement and topological order. New Journal of Physics, 13: 025009.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0029-8DAD-9
Topological or deconfined phases are characterized by emergent, weakly fluctuating, gauge fields. In condensed matter settings, they inevitably come coupled to excitations that carry the corresponding gauge charges which invalidate the standard diagnostic of deconfinement-the Wilson loop. Inspired by a mapping between symmetric sponges and the deconfined phase of the Z(2) gauge theory, we construct a diagnostic for deconfinement that has the interpretation of a line tension. One operator version of this diagnostic turns out to be the Fredenhagen-Marcu order parameter known to lattice gauge theorists and we show that a different version is best suited to condensed matter systems. We discuss generalizations of the diagnostic, use it to establish the existence of finite temperature topological phases in d >= 3 dimensions and show that multiplets of the diagnostic are useful in settings with multiple phases, such as U(1) gauge theories with charge q matter. (Additionally, we present an exact reduction of the partition function of the toric code in general dimensions to a well-studied problem.)