Scientific article
Open access

An Introduction to Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking

Publication date2019-12-04
First online date2019-12-04

Perhaps the most important aspect of symmetry in physics is the idea that a state does not need to have the same symmetries as the theory that describes it. This phenomenon is known as spontaneous symmetry breaking. In these lecture notes, starting from a careful definition of symmetry in physics, we introduce symmetry breaking and its consequences. Emphasis is placed on the physics of singular limits, showing the reality of symmetry breaking even in small-sized systems. Topics covered include Nambu-Goldstone modes, quantum corrections, phase transitions, topological defects and gauge fields. We provide many examples from both high energy and condensed matter physics. These notes are suitable for graduate students.

  • Defect: topological
  • Correction: quantum
  • Energy: high
  • Spontaneous symmetry breaking
  • Symmetry breaking
  • Critical phenomena
  • Goldstone particle
  • Gauge field theory
  • Condensed matter
  • Lectures
Research group
Citation (ISO format)
BEEKMAN, Aron J., RADEMAKER, Louk, VAN WEZEL, Jasper. An Introduction to Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking. In: SciPost physics lecture notes, 2019, p. 11. doi: 10.21468/scipostphyslectnotes.11
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal2590-1990

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