TSU laboratory is studying quantum effects in superstrong fields

19 April 2019

The Laboratory for Quantum Theory of Intense Fields has received a grant of the Russian Science Physics Foundation to study quantum effects in strong electromagnetic fields. This is fundamental research in theoretical physics, the results of which will help to clarify how these quantum effects influence the optical properties of nanomaterials and the generating of strong electromagnetic fields near black holes and neutron stars.

- Traditionally it was believed that quantum theory is intended to describe the phenomena of the microworld and strong macroscopic fields are described by classical theory. However, the development of quantum field theory has led to the understanding that nontrivial quantum effects of the creation of particles from a vacuum arise in strong fields, which are capable under certain conditions of changing the classical evolution of strong fields. Until recently, such strong fields and the corresponding effects could not be observed in nature or created in an experiment in a laboratory, - says Professor Dmitry Gitman, the project manager and laboratory supervisor.

In recent years, the situation has changed dramatically: the creation of super-power laser systems, new advances in observational astrophysics, and particle physics have opened up opportunities for a large number of applications of quantum effects in strong fields in astrophysics, cosmology, neutrino physics, and nuclear physics, and in the rapidly developing physics of nanostructures, especially in the physics of graphene.

- Quantum electrodynamics with an unstable vacuum, within which it is possible to effectively describe such effects, is the corresponding general theory that has been evolved in our work over the past decades, - specifies Dmitry Gitman.

The grant awarded is devoted both to the further development of this theory and its applications to a number of important physics problems. One of them is the description of quantum effects in nanostructures (in particular, in graphene) caused by the occurrence of specific electronic excitations from vacuum instability, and their effect on conductivity and radiation. Another line of research concerns the possibility of generating strong electromagnetic fields near astrophysical objects such as black holes and neutron stars. Related tasks are closely linked to neutrino physics and to the chiral magnetic effect (CME) that has been intensively discussed recently.

The Laboratory for Quantum Theory of Intense Fields was organized at TSU in 2014 and combines the efforts of experienced theoretical physicists and their early-career colleagues to study quantum effects arising in intense fields of a various nature: electromagnetic, gravitational, Yang-Mills fields, and others.