BCS-to-BEC Quantum Phase Transition in High-Tc Superconductors and Fermionic Atomic Gases: A Functional Integral Approach
Botelho, Sergio S.
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The problem of the evolution from BCS theory with cooperative Cooper pairing to the formation and condensation of composite bosons has attracted considerable attention for the past several decades. It has gained renewed impetus in the mid-eighties with the discovery of the high-Tc superconductors, which have a coherence length comparable to the interparticle spacing. More recently, this subject has spurred a great deal of research activity in connection with experiments involving dilute atomic gases of fermionic atoms. The initial objective of this work will be to use functional integral techniques to analyze the low-temperature BCS-to-BEC evolution of d-wave superconductors within the saddle point (mean field) approximation for a continuum model. Then, the same mathematical formalism will be applied to the problem of the BCS-to-BEC evolution of fully spin-polarized p-wave Fermi gases in two dimensions. We find that a quantum phase transition occurs for both systems as they are driven from the BCS-like regime of weakly interacting fermionic pairs to the opposite BEC-like regime of strongly interacting bosonic molecules. This is in contrast to the smooth crossover predicted and observed in systems that exhibit s-wave pairing symmetry. We calculate several spectroscopic and thermodynamic properties that signal the occurrence of this phase transition, and suggest some possible experimental realizations. Finally, fluctuations about the saddle point solution are included in the calculations, and the effects of such correction are analyzed in the low (T~0) and high (T~Tc) temperature limits. We conclude that, at high temperatures, the bosonic degrees of freedom that arise from two-particle bound states become essential to describe the strong coupling limit, as the saddle point approximation alone becomes unreliable.