We investigate false vacuum decay of a relativistic scalar field initialized in the metastable minimum of an asymmetric double-well potential. The transition to the true ground state is a well-defined initial-value problem in real time, which can be formulated in nonequilibrium quantum field theory on a closed time path. We employ the non-perturbative framework of the two-particle irreducible (2PI) quantum effective action at next-to-leading order in a large-N expansion. We also compare to classical-statistical field theory simulations on a lattice in the high-temperature regime. By this, we demonstrate that the real-time decay rates are comparable to those obtained from the conventional Euclidean (bounce) approach. In general, we find that the decay rates are time dependent. For a more comprehensive description of the dynamics, we extract a time-dependent effective potential, which becomes convex during the nonequilibrium transition process. By solving the quantum evolution equations for the one- and two-point correlation functions for vacuum initial conditions, we demonstrate that quantum corrections can lead to transitions that are not captured by classical-statistical approximations.

L. Batini, A. Chatrchyan, J. Berges, “Real-time dynamics of false vacuum decay”, Oct. 6, 2023, arXiv:2310.04206 (2023).


Related to Project B04