Equilibrium and nonequilibrium properties of systems with long-range interactions
Dipartimento di Energetica “S. Stecco" and CSDC, Università di Firenze
via s. Marta 3, 50139 Firenze, Italy and INFN, Sezione di Firenze, Italy
Corresponding author: a email@example.com
Published online: 1 February 2008
We briefly review some equilibrium and nonequilibrium properties of systems with long-range interactions. Such systems, which are characterized by a potential that weakly decays at large distances, have striking properties at equilibrium, like negative specific heat in the microcanonical ensemble, temperature jumps at first order phase transitions, broken ergodicity. Here, we mainly restrict our analysis to mean-field models, where particles globally interact with the same strength. We show that relaxation to equilibrium proceeds through quasi-stationary states whose duration increases with system size. We propose a theoretical explanation, based on Lynden-Bell's entropy, of this intriguing relaxation process. This allows to address problems related to nonequilibrium using an extension of standard equilibrium statistical mechanics. We discuss in some detail the example of the dynamics of the free electron laser, where the existence and features of quasi-stationary states is likely to be tested experimentally in the future. We conclude with some perspectives to study open problems and to find applications of these ideas to dipolar media.
PACS: 05.20.-y – Classical statistical mechanics / 05.70.Fh – Phase transitions: general studies / 05.45.-a – Nonlinear dynamics and chaos
© EDP Sciences, Società Italiana di Fisica, Springer-Verlag, 2008