Abstract:
This is a review of the recent progress on a holographic description of the Schwinger effect. In 2011, Semenoff and Zarembo proposed a scenario to study the Schwinger effect in the context of the AdS/CFT correspondence. The production rate of quark anti-quark pairs was computed in the Coulomb phase. In particular, it provided the critical value of external electric field, above which particles are freely created and the vacuum decays catastrophically. Then the potential analysis in the holographic approach was invented and it enabled us to study the Schwinger effect in the confining phase as well. A remarkable feature of the Schwinger effect in the confining phase is to exhibit another kind of the critical value, below which the pair production cannot occur and the vacuum of the system is non-perturbatively stable. The critical value is tantamount to the confining string tension. We computed the pair production rate numerically and introduced new exponents associated with the critical electric fields.

Abstract:
We develop a method to compute the Casimir effect for arbitrary geometries. The method is based on the string-inspired worldline approach to quantum field theory and its numerical realization with Monte-Carlo techniques. Concentrating on Casimir forces between rigid bodies induced by a fluctuating scalar field, we test our method with the parallel-plate configuration. For the experimentally relevant sphere-plate configuration, we study curvature effects quantitatively and perform a comparison with the ``proximity force approximation'', which is the standard approximation technique. Sizable curvature effects are found for a distance-to-curvature-radius ratio of a/R >~ 0.02. Our method is embedded in renormalizable quantum field theory with a controlled treatment of the UV divergencies. As a technical by-product, we develop various efficient algorithms for generating closed-loop ensembles with Gaussian distribution.

Abstract:
We develop a model for hadrons in the framework of the worldline formalism. While being based wholly in four-dimensional quantum field theory, it shares many features with holographic approaches: Already by the use of the worldline formalism the approach appears intrinsically quantum mechanical. As auxiliary fifth dimension Schwinger's proper time is grouped with the physical four spacetime dimensions into an AdS5 geometry, which is warped due to conformal-symmetry breaking effects. Hidden local symmetry is emergent. The four-dimensional sources are extended to five-dimensional fields by a Wilson flow (gradient flow). A variational principle for the flow reproduces exactly the corresponding holographic computation. The worldline approach also yields the higher-dimensional description in the non-relativistic case.

Abstract:
We revisit the problem of dipole-dipole scattering via exchanges of soft Pomerons in the context of holographic QCD. We show that a single closed string exchange contribution to the eikonalized dipole-dipole scattering amplitude yields a Regge behavior of the elastic amplitude; the corresponding slope and intercept are different from previous results obtained by a variational analysis of semi-classical surfaces. We provide a physical interpretation of the semi-classical worldsheets driving the Regge behavior for (-t)>0 in terms of worldsheet instantons. The latter describe the Schwinger mechanism for string pair creation by an electric field, where the longitudinal electric field E_L=\sigma_T tanh(\chi/2) at the origin of this non-perturbative mechanism is induced by the relative rapidity {\chi} of the scattering dipoles. Our analysis naturally explains the diffusion in the impact parameter space encoded in the Pomeron exchange; in our picture, it is due to the Unruh temperature of accelerated strings under the electric field. We also argue for the existence of a "micro-fireball" in the middle of the transverse space due to the soft Pomeron exchange, which may be at the origin of the thermal character of multiparticle production in ep/pp collisions. After summing over uncorrelated multi-Pomeron exchanges, we find that the total dipole-dipole cross section obeys the Froissart unitarity bound.

Abstract:
Magnetic impurities are responsible for many interesting phenomena in condensed matter systems, notably the Kondo effect and quantum phase transitions. Here we present a holographic model of a magnetic impurity that captures the main physical properties of the large-spin Kondo effect. We estimate the screening length of the Kondo cloud that forms around the impurity from a calculation of entanglement entropy and show that our results are consistent with the g-theorem.

Abstract:
We apply to the massive scalar field a method recently proposed by Schwinger to calculate the Casimir effect. The method is applied with two different regularization schemes: the Schwinger original one by means of Poisson formula and another one by means of analytical continuation.

Abstract:
This pedagogical review aims at presenting the fundamental aspects of the theory of inflationary cosmological perturbations of quantum-mechanical origin. The analogy with the well-known Schwinger effect is discussed in detail and a systematic comparison of the two physical phenomena is carried out. In particular, it is demonstrated that the two underlying formalisms differ only up to an irrelevant canonical transformation. Hence, the basic physical mechanisms at play are similar in both cases and can be reduced to the quantization of a parametric oscillator leading to particle creation due to the interaction with a classical source: pair production in vacuum is therefore equivalent to the appearance of a growing mode for the cosmological fluctuations. The only difference lies in the nature of the source: an electric field in the case of the Schwinger effect and the gravitational field in the case of inflationary perturbations. Although, in the laboratory, it is notoriously difficult to produce an electric field such that pairs extracted from the vacuum can be detected, the gravitational field in the early universe can be strong enough to lead to observable effects that ultimately reveal themselves as temperature fluctuations in the Cosmic Microwave Background. Finally, the question of how quantum cosmological perturbations can be considered as classical is discussed at the end of the article.

Abstract:
We study the Schwinger effect, in which the external field having a spatio-temporal profile creates electron-positron pairs via multidimensional quantum tunneling. Our treatment is based on Gutzwiller's trace formula for the QED effective action, whose imaginary part is represented by a sum over complex wordlines. The worldlines are multi-periodic, and the periods of motion collectively depend on the strength of spatial and temporal inhomogeneity. We argue that Hamilton's characteristic function that leads to the correct tunneling amplitude must explicitly depend on both periods, and is represented by an average over the internal cycles of motion. We use this averaging method to calculate the pair production rate in an exponentially damped sinusoidal field, where we find that the initial conditions for each family of periodic trajectories lie on a curve in the momentum plane. The ratio of the periods, which may also be referred as the topological index, stays uniform on each curve. Calculation of tunneling amplitude using multi-periodic trajectories shows that vacuum decay rate is reduced by an order of magnitude with respect to the purely time dependent case, due to the presence of magnetic field.

Abstract:
We develop a 1+1-dimensional model of a semiconductor, which exhibits an analog of the nonperturbative electron-positron pair creation from the quantum vacuum via time-dependent external electric fields (Sauter-Schwinger effect). In the one-particle picture of the relativistic Dirac theory, pair production from the Dirac vacuum can be understood as the excitation of a Dirac sea electron into the upper energy continuum. The analog effect in the semiconductor model is the excitation of electrons from the valence band into the conduction band (electron-hole pair creation). We show that the underlying equations describing the excitation processes in both systems are in some cases formally equivalent. The critical electric field strength for the Sauter-Schwinger effect is much smaller in typical semiconductors than in Dirac theory due to the different physical scales. This fact makes analog systems like the semiconductor model promising candidates for the observation of the Sauter-Schwinger effect in the laboratory.

Abstract:
Holographic principles have impacted the way we look at strong coupling phenomena in quantum chromodynamics, strongly interacting extensions of the standard model, and {condensed-matter} physics. In real world settings, however, we still lack understanding of why and when such an approach is justified. Therefore, here, without invoking any such principle a priori, we demonstrate how such a picture arises in the worldline formulation of quantum field theory. Among other connections to holographic models, a warped AdS5 geometry, a quantum mechanical picture, and hidden local symmetry emerge, as well as a Wilson flow (gradient flow), which extends the four-dimensional sources to five-dimensional fields and a link to the Gutzwiller trace formula. The worldline formulation also reproduces the non-relativistic case, which is important for condensed-matter physics.