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Shock waves, rarefaction waves, and nonequilibrium steady states in quantum critical systems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Andrew Lucas, Koenraad Schalm, Benjamin Doyon, M. J. Bhaseen

Original languageEnglish
Article number025004
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalPhysical Review D (Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology)
Issue number2
Early online date5 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2016


King's Authors


We reexamine the emergence of a universal nonequilibrium steady state following a local quench between quantum critical heat baths in spatial dimensions greater than one. We show that energy transport proceeds by the formation of an instantaneous shock wave and a broadening rarefaction wave on either side of the interface, and not by two shock waves as previously proposed. For small temperature differences the universal steady state energy currents of the two-shock and rarefaction-shock solutions coincide. Over a broad range of parameters, the difference in the energy flow across the interface between these two solutions is at the level of 2%. The properties of the energy flow remain fully universal and independent of the microscopic theory. We briefly discuss the width of the shock wave in a viscous fluid, the effects of momentum relaxation, and the generalization to charged fluids.

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