Thermal field theory: A primer for particle and nuclear physics

Quantum field theory serves as a powerful framework to describe a wide range of phenomena in particle physics and tackle complex many-body problems and interactions. However, conventional quantum field theory typically deals with systems at zero temperature and chemical potential, while real-world interactions occur at non-zero temperatures.

To address this, physicists turn to thermal field theory, which describes systems with multiple interacting particles, including gauge interactions, in a thermal environment. It also accounts for the creation and annihilation of new processes in a thermal system that don’t exist in vacuum or conventional field theory.

In a recent paper, Munshi G. Mustafa, a Senior Professor at the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics in India, introduces thermal field theory in a simple way, detailing its mathematical framework and applications. The goal is to make problems manageable by combining statistical mechanics with quantum field theory and expressing observable characteristics in terms of temperature and chemical potential.

Thermal field theory is crucial for understanding matter produced in high-energy heavy-ion collisions at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and future experiments. It also plays a vital role in comprehending phase transitions in condensed matter physics and the early universe’s evolution.

The paper serves as a pedagogical review, serving as a primer for those interested in learning thermal field theory from the basics.

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