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Concept# Quantum phase transition

Summary

In physics, a quantum phase transition (QPT) is a phase transition between different quantum phases (phases of matter at zero temperature). Contrary to classical phase transitions, quantum phase transitions can only be accessed by varying a physical parameter—such as magnetic field or pressure—at absolute zero temperature. The transition describes an abrupt change in the ground state of a many-body system due to its quantum fluctuations. Such a quantum phase transition can be a second-order phase transition. Quantum phase transitions can also be represented by the topological fermion condensation quantum phase transition, see e.g. strongly correlated quantum spin liquid. In case of three dimensional Fermi liquid, this transition transforms the Fermi surface into a Fermi volume. Such a transition can be a first-order phase transition, for it transforms two dimensional structure (Fermi surface) into three dimensional. As a result, the topological charge of Fermi liquid changes abruptly, since it takes only one of a discrete set of values.
To understand quantum phase transitions, it is useful to contrast them to classical phase transitions (CPT) (also called thermal phase transitions). A CPT describes a cusp in the thermodynamic properties of a system. It signals a reorganization of the particles; A typical example is the freezing transition of water describing the transition between liquid and solid. The classical phase transitions are driven by a competition between the energy of a system and the entropy of its thermal fluctuations. A classical system does not have entropy at zero temperature and therefore no phase transition can occur. Their order is determined by the first discontinuous derivative of a thermodynamic potential.
A phase transition from water to ice, for example, involves latent heat (a discontinuity of the internal energy ) and is of first order. A phase transition from a ferromagnet to a paramagnet is continuous and is of second order.

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In physics, a quantum phase transition (QPT) is a phase transition between different quantum phases (phases of matter at zero temperature). Contrary to classical phase transitions, quantum phase transitions can only be accessed by varying a physical parameter—such as magnetic field or pressure—at absolute zero temperature. The transition describes an abrupt change in the ground state of a many-body system due to its quantum fluctuations. Such a quantum phase transition can be a second-order phase transition.

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