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Research project

Applied gauge-gravity duality beyond equilibrium

Project overview

A physical system will typically relax to a state of equilibrium in the absence of external influences. These special states constitute some of the best understood parts of physics. But because they are special, to limit research to them would be to limit our understanding of the physical world. Non-equilibrium states are easily accessible in experiments, carry boundless technological potential, and yet are poorly understood at the most fundamental theoretical level. The combination of these attributes makes them an exciting topic of fundamental research.

This project seeks to understand the key theoretical concepts and quantities that describe strongly-interacting non-equilibrium physics using gauge-gravity duality, a singularly powerful part of the modern theorist's toolbox. Gauge theories successfully describe the fundamental particles of nature as well as certain condensed matter systems. In this project, gauge theory is strongly-interacting and pushed far from equilibrium, then rendered computationally tractable using the duality. The duality therefore acts as an effective computational tool, but perhaps more importantly, provides a new first-principles perspective on non-equilibrium physics.

Gauge theory dynamics are described by the dynamics of black hole spacetimes, which can be explored using numerical gravity techniques. This research will explore new non-equilibrium states and quantities using these tools, with the aim of gaining new insight into this rich and exciting physical landscape.


Lead researcher

Dr Benjamin Withers

Principal Research Fellow

Research interests

  • Gravity
  • Holography
  • String theory

Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

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