Finite-size scaling for quantum criticality using the finite-element method

Edwin Antillon, Birgit Wehefritz-Kaufmann, Sabre Kais

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Finite size scaling for the Schrödinger equation is a systematic approach to calculate the quantum critical parameters for a given Hamiltonian. This approach has been shown to give very accurate results for critical parameters by using a systematic expansion with global basis-type functions. Recently, the finite-element method was shown to be a powerful numerical method for ab initio electronic-structure calculations with a variable real-space resolution. In this work, we demonstrate how to obtain quantum critical parameters by combining the finite-element method (FEM) with finite size scaling (FSS) using different ab initio approximations and exact formulations. The critical parameters could be atomic nuclear charges, internuclear distances, electron density, disorder, lattice structure, and external fields for stability of atomic, molecular systems and quantum phase transitions of extended systems. To illustrate the effectiveness of this approach we provide detailed calculations of applying FEM to approximate solutions for the two-electron atom with varying nuclear charge; these include Hartree-Fock, local density approximation, and an "exact" formulation using FEM. We then use the FSS approach to determine its critical nuclear charge for stability; here, the size of the system is related to the number of elements used in the calculations. Results prove to be in good agreement with previous Slater-basis set calculations and demonstrate that it is possible to combine finite size scaling with the finite-element method by using ab initio calculations to obtain quantum critical parameters. The combined approach provides a promising first-principles approach to describe quantum phase transitions for materials and extended systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number036706
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability

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