Abstract:Année de publication : 2012
A fundamental property of the quantum Hall effect is the presence of edge states at the boundary of the sample, robust against localization and responsible for the perfect quantization of the Hall conductance. The transition between integer quantum Hall plateaus is a delocalization transition, which can be identified as a strong-coupling fixed point of a 1 + 1-dimensional supersymmetric sigma model with topological theta-term. The conformal field theory describing this transition displays unusual features such as non-unitarity, and resisted any attempt of solution so far. In this thesis we investigate the role of edge states at quantum Hall transitions using lattice discretizations of super sigma models. Edge states correspond to twisted boundary conditions for the fields, which can be discretized as quantum spin chains or geometrical (loop) models. For the spin quantum Hall effect, a counterpart of the integer quantum Hall effect for spin transport (class C), our techniques allow the exact computation of critical exponents of the boundary conformal field theories describing higher plateaus transitions. Our predictions for the mean spin conductance are validated by extensive numerical simulations of the related localization problems. Envisaging applications to transport in network models of 2 + 1-dimensional disordered electrons, and to quenches in one-dimensional gapless quantum systems, in this thesis we have also developed a new formalism for dealing with partition functions of critical systems in rectangular geometries. As an application, we derive formulas for probabilities of self-avoiding walks.