Minding the gap in holographic models of interacting fermions

Garrett Vanacore, Philip W. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study the holographic dual of fermions interacting in a Schwarzschild-AdSd+1 background via a dipole (Pauli) coupling sourced by a probe gauge field. We find quite generally that a gap forms in the dual operator spectrum as the Pauli coupling is strengthened. Previous investigations have observed this behavior in analogous constructions with Reissner-Nordström- AdS (RN-AdS4) backgrounds, but the emergence of log-oscillatory behavior in those models' spectra prevented identification of the underlying gapping mechanism. Our model obviates this issue through its modified geometry and traces the gapping mechanism back to the bulk dynamics. We show in general that there is a duality between zeros for large positive values of the coupling and poles in the spectrum for equivalent couplings but with opposite sign as seen recently in the RN-AdS4 background by Alsup et al. The duality arises from the two possible quantizations for computing the retarded propagator. Coupled with the earlier string results [J.P. Gauntlett, J. Sonner, and D. Waldram, Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 241601 (2011); O. DeWolfe, S.S. Gubser, and C. Rosen, Phys. Rev. Lett. 108, 251601 (2012)] that Fermi surfaces are generally absent from the spectral function, our finding that the Pauli term engineers the gap suggests that the model examined here offers a way of studying nonperturbative physics in fermionic matter at finite density typified by Mott insulating systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number044022
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 11 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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