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Journal Article

Wavefunctions of macroscopic electron systems


Fulde,  Peter
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Max Planck Society;

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Fulde, P. (2019). Wavefunctions of macroscopic electron systems. The Journal of Chemical Physics, 150(3): 030901. doi:10.1063/1.5050329.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-8B9D-D
Wavefunctions for large electron numbers N are plagued by the Exponential Wall Problem (EWP), i.e., an exponential increase in the dimensions of Hilbert space with N. Therefore, they lose their meaning for macroscopic systems, a point stressed, in particular, by Kohn. The EWP has to be resolved in order to provide a solid basis for wavefunction based electronic structure calculations of macroscopic systems, e.g., solids. The origin of the EWP is the multiplicative property of wavefunctions when independent subsystems are considered. Therefore, it can only be avoided when wavefunctions are formulated so that they are additive instead, in particular, when matrix elements involving them are calculated. We describe how this is done for the ground state of a macroscopic electron system. Going over from a multiplicative to an additive quantity requires taking a logarithm. Here it implies going over from Hilbert space to the operator- or Liouville space with a metric based on cumulants. The operators which define the ground-state wavefunction generate fluctuations from a mean-field state. The latter does not suffer from an EWP and therefore may serve as a vacuum state. The fluctuations have to be connected like the ones caused by pair interactions in a classical gas when the free energy is calculated (Meyer's cluster expansion). This fixes the metric in Liouville space. The scheme presented here provides a solid basis for electronic structure calculations for the ground state of solids. In fact, its applicability has already been proven. We discuss also matrix product states, which have been applied to one-dimensional systems with results of high precision. Although these states are formulated in Hilbert space, they are processed by using operators in Liouville space. We show that they fit into the general formalism described above.