Symmetry restoration in mean-field approaches

Javid Sheikh, Jacek Jan Dobaczewski, P. Ring, L. M. Robledo, Constantine Yannouleas

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The mean-field approximation based on effective interactions or density functionals plays a pivotal role in the description of finite quantum many-body systems that are too large to be treated by ab initio methods. Some examples are strongly interacting medium and heavy mass atomic nuclei and mesoscopic condensed matter systems. In this approach, the linear Schrodinger equation for the exact many-body wave function is mapped onto a non-linear density-dependent one-body potential problem. This approximation, not only provides computationally very simple solutions even for systems with many particles, but due to the non-linearity, it also allows for obtaining solutions that break essential symmetries of the system, often connected with phase transitions. In this way, additional correlations are subsumed in the system. However, the mean-field approach suffers from the drawback that the corresponding wave functions do not have sharp quantum numbers and, therefore, many results cannot be compared directly with experimental data. In this article, we discuss general group-theory techniques to restore the broken symmetries, and provide detailed expressions on the restoration of translational, rotational, spin, isospin, parity and gauge symmetries, where the latter corresponds to the restoration of the particle number. In order to avoid the numerical complexity of exact projection techniques, various approximation methods available in the literature are examined. Applications of the projection methods are presented for simple nuclear models, realistic calculations in relatively small configuration spaces, nuclear energy density functional theory, as well as in other mesoscopic systems. We also discuss applications of projection techniques to quantum statistics in order to treat the averaging over restricted ensembles with fixed quantum numbers. Further, unresolved problems in the application of the symmetry restoration methods to the energy density functional theories are highlighted in the present work.
Original languageEnglish
Article number123001
JournalJournal of physics g-Nuclear and particle physics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021

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© 2021 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd.

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