Phases of Wilson lines: conformality and screening

Ofer Aharony, Gabriel Cuomo, Zohar Komargodski, Márk Mezei, Avia Raviv-Moshe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study the rich dynamics resulting from introducing static charged particles (Wilson lines) in 2+1 and 3+1 dimensional gauge theories. Depending on the charges of the external particles, there may be multiple defect fixed points with interesting renormalization group flows connecting them, or an exponentially large screening cloud can develop (defining a new emergent length scale), screening the bare charge entirely or partially. We investigate several examples where the dynamics can be solved in various weak coupling or double scaling limits. Sometimes even the elementary Wilson lines, corresponding to the lowest nontrivial charge, are screened. We consider Wilson lines in 3+1 dimensional gauge theories including massless scalar and fermionic QED4, and also in the N = 4 supersymmetric Yang-Mills theory. We also consider Wilson lines in 2+1 dimensional conformal gauge theories such as QED3 with bosons or fermions, Chern-Simons-Matter theories, and the effective theory of graphene. Our results in 2+1 dimensions have potential implications for graphene, second-order superconducting phase transitions, etc. Finally, we comment on magnetic line operators in 3+1 dimensions (’t Hooft lines) and argue that our results for the infrared dynamics of electric and magnetic lines are consistent with non-Abelian electric-magnetic duality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number183
JournalJournal of High Energy Physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - 27 Dec 2023


  • Renormalization Group
  • Scale and Conformal Symmetries
  • Wilson, ’t Hooft and Polyakov loops

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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