Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Physics

First Advisor

Oliver DeWolfe

Second Advisor

Phil Armitage

Third Advisor

Shanta de Alwis

Abstract

We apply the techniques of gauge/gravity duality to a variety of physical systems at very different energy scales. Gravitational duals of hot, strongly coupled plasmas qualitatively similar to the matter produced in collisions of heavy nuclei are studied in the context of conformal symmetry breaking and phase structure. We find that quantities such as the speed of sound in the plasma are largely indifferent to the manner in which conformal symmetry is broken, while parameters that measure the stopping power of the plasma are sensitive to symmetry breaking specifics. A gravitational dual of a Quantum Chromodynamics-like gauge theory with a second order phase transition is constructed, and the critical behavior of susceptibilities and transport coefficients in the vicinity of the second order point is studied. We find that our model is characterized by the mean field description of a theory in the universality class of the three dimensional Ising model, with a dynamical universality class of the type Model B in the Hohenberg and Halperin classification. We also investigate the application of AdS/CFT duality to condensed matter systems at low energies. These systems include cold atomic realizations of fermions at unitarity, and non-Fermi liquids. We construct bulk theories dual to rotating non-relativistic conformal field theories at finite density, and obtain a "top down" embedding of non-Fermi liquids with Fermi surfaces in maximal gauged supergravity in four and five dimensions. We conclude with additional comments on the results and avenues for continued research.

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