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  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: August 2009

13 - The path integral approach to thermodynamics


A very curious situation arises in the context of the calculation of the partition function from the spectrum of an integrable Hamiltonian. Despite the validity of the Bethe ansatz equations for all energy eigenvalues of the model the direct evaluation of the partition function is rather difficult. In contrast to ideal quantum gases the eigenstates are not explicitly known: the Bethe ansatz equations provide just implicit descriptions that pose problems of their own kind. Yet, knowing the behaviour of quantum chains at finite temperatures is important for many reasons. As a matter of fact, the groundstate is strictly inaccessible due to the very fundamentals of thermodynamics. Therefore the study of finite temperatures is relevant for theoretical as well as experimental reasons. At high temperatures, quantum systems show only trivial static properties without correlations. Lowering the temperature, the systems enter a large regime with non-universal correlations and finally approach the quantum critical point at exactly zero temperature showing universal, non-trivial properties with divergent correlation lengths governed by conformal field theory [51].

In Chapter 5 of this book we have discussed the traditional Thermodynamical Bethe Ansatz (TBA) as developed for the Heisenberg model and the Hubbard model [155, 433–435] on the basis of a method [496] invented for the Bose gas.

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