Massive type IIA string theory cannot be strongly coupled
ABSTRACT Understanding the strong coupling limit of massive type IIA string theory is
a longstanding problem. We argue that perhaps this problem does not exist;
namely, there may be no strongly coupled solutions of the massive theory. We
show explicitly that massive type IIA string theory can never be strongly
coupled in a weakly curved region of space-time. We illustrate our general
claim with two classes of massive solutions in AdS4xCP3: one, previously known,
with N = 1 supersymmetry, and a new one with N = 2 supersymmetry. Both
solutions are dual to d = 3 Chern-Simons-matter theories. In both these massive
examples, as the rank N of the gauge group is increased, the dilaton initially
increases in the same way as in the corresponding massless case; before it can
reach the M-theory regime, however, it enters a second regime, in which the
dilaton decreases even as N increases. In the N = 2 case, we find
supersymmetry-preserving gauge-invariant monopole operators whose mass is
independent of N. This predicts the existence of branes which stay light even
when the dilaton decreases. We show that, on the gravity side, these states
originate from D2-D0 bound states wrapping the vanishing two-cycle of a
conifold singularity that develops at large N.
- SourceAvailable from: Alessandro Tomasiello[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Some gauge theories with Coulomb branches exhibit singularities in perturbation theory, which are usually resolved by nonperturbative physics. In string theory this corresponds to the resolution of timelike singularities near the core of orientifold planes by effects from F or M theory. We propose a new mechanism for resolving Coulomb branch singularities in three dimensional gauge theories, based on Chern-Simons interactions. This is illustrated in a supersymmetric SU(2) Yang-Mills-Chern-Simons theory. We calculate the one loop corrections to the Coulomb branch of this theory and find a result that interpolates smoothly between the high energy metric (that would exhibit the singularity) and a regular singularity-free low energy result. We suggest possible applications to singularity resolution in string theory and speculate a relationship to a similar phenomenon for the orientifold six-plane in massive IIA supergravity.Physical review D: Particles and fields 05/2013; 88(4).
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: We rewrite the equations for ten-dimensional supersymmetry in a way formally identical to a necessary and sufficient G-structure system in N=2 gauged supergravity, where all four-dimensional quantities are replaced by combinations of pure spinors and fluxes in the internal space. This provides a way to look for lifts of BPS solutions without having to reduce or even rewrite the ten-dimensional action. In particular this avoids the problem of consistent truncation, and the introduction of unphysical gravitino multiplets.05/2013;
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Very few AdS_6 x M_4 supersymmetric solutions are known: one in massive IIA, and two IIB solutions dual to it. The IIA solution is known to be unique; in this paper, we use the pure spinor approach to give a classification for IIB supergravity. We reduce the problem to two PDEs on a two-dimensional space Sigma. M_4 is then a fibration of S^2 over Sigma; the metric and fluxes are completely determined in terms of the solution to the PDEs. The results seem likely to accommodate near-horizon limits of (p,q)-fivebrane webs studied in the literature as a source of CFT_5's. We also show that there are no AdS_6 solutions in eleven-dimensional supergravity.06/2014;
Massive type IIA string theory
cannot be strongly coupled
Ofer Aharony1, Daniel Jafferis2, Alessandro Tomasiello3,4and Alberto Zaffaroni3
1Department of Particle Physics and Astrophysics
The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel
2School of Natural Sciences, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
3Dipartimento di Fisica, Universit` a di Milano–Bicocca, I-20126 Milano, Italy
INFN, sezione di Milano–Bicocca, I-20126 Milano, Italy
4Albert Einstein Minerva Center, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel
Understanding the strong coupling limit of massive type IIA string theory is a longstand-
ing problem. We argue that perhaps this problem does not exist; namely, there may be
no strongly coupled solutions of the massive theory. We show explicitly that massive type
IIA string theory can never be strongly coupled in a weakly curved region of space-time.
We illustrate our general claim with two classes of massive solutions in AdS4×CP3: one,
previously known, with N = 1 supersymmetry, and a new one with N = 2 supersym-
metry. Both solutions are dual to d = 3 Chern–Simons–matter theories. In both these
massive examples, as the rank N of the gauge group is increased, the dilaton initially
increases in the same way as in the corresponding massless case; before it can reach the
M–theory regime, however, it enters a second regime, in which the dilaton decreases even
as N increases. In the N = 2 case, we find supersymmetry–preserving gauge–invariant
monopole operators whose mass is independent of N. This predicts the existence of branes
which stay light even when the dilaton decreases. We show that, on the gravity side, these
states originate from D2–D0 bound states wrapping the vanishing two–cycle of a conifold
singularity that develops at large N.
arXiv:1007.2451v1 [hep-th] 14 Jul 2010
1Introduction and summary of results
One of the most striking aspects of string theory is its uniqueness, realized by the fa-
mous “web of dualities” that interconnect its various perturbative realizations. A famous
thread in this web connects weakly coupled, perturbative type IIA string theory with
its strong coupling limit, M theory (which reduces at low energies to eleven–dimensional
It has been known for a while, however, that this duality does not work when the
Romans mass parameter F0 , which can be thought of as a space-filling Ramond-
Ramond (RR) 10-form flux, is switched on. There is no candidate parameter in eleven–
dimensional supergravity to match with F0, unlike for all the other fluxes; nor is there
any massive deformation of the eleven–dimensional theory [2–4]. And, from the type IIA
point of view, the D0-branes which give rise to the momentum modes in the eleventh
dimension at strong coupling do not exist in the massive theory (as there is a tadpole
for their worldvolume gauge field). This would then appear to be an imperfection in our
understanding of string duality: it would be one string theory whose strong coupling limit
is not known.
In this paper, we will argue that this strong coupling limit may not exist, and we will
show this explicitly at least at the level of weakly curved solutions. In general these are the
only solutions we have any control over, unless we have a large amount of supersymmetry;
one can separately consider cases with a large amount of supersymmetry, and none of them
seem to lead to strong coupling either. (The type I’ theory of  contains in some of its
vacua strongly coupled regions of massive type IIA string theory, but these regions have
a varying dilaton and their size is never larger than the string scale.) Thus, we claim that
there is no reason to believe that any strongly coupled solutions exist (with the exception
of solutions with small strongly coupled regions), and we conjecture that there are none.
This is consistent with the fact that no suggestion for an alternative description of the
massive theory at strong coupling is known.
In section 2 we provide a simple argument that the string coupling gs in massive
type IIA string theory must be small, if the curvature is small. Generically, we find that
equations of motion and flux quantization.
< ls/R, where R is a local radius of curvature. The argument just uses the supergravity
This result is in striking contrast with what happens in the massless case. In the
ten–dimensional massless vacuum, for example, the dilaton is a free parameter, and in
particular it can be made large, resulting in the M–theory phase mentioned earlier. The
massive theory has no such vacua.
It is of interest to consider examples with AdS4 factors, where we can take advan-
tage of a dual field theory interpretation via the AdS/CFT correspondence, which also
provides a non-perturbative definition for the corresponding string theory backgrounds.
In particular, it is natural to consider solutions like the N = 6 supersymmetric solution
AdS4× CP3of the massless type IIA string theory [6–8]. In this solution, the dilaton is
determined by the internal flux integers k ∝?
large dilaton with small curvature. In this limit, the solution is better described as the
AdS4× S7/ZkM–theory background. The dual field theory has been identified in  as
the N = 6 superconformal Chern-Simons-matter theory with gauge group U(N)×U(N)
and Chern-Simons couplings k and −k.
Massive type IIA solutions are also known on AdS4×CP3, and it is natural to compare
their behavior to the massless case. For example, some solutions with N = 1 supersym-
metry are known explicitly [10,11]; they contain the N = 6 solution as a particular case.
The field theory duals are Chern–Simons–matter theories whose levels do not sum up to
zero. Even though F0is quantized as n0/(2πls), one might think that introducing the
smallest quantum of it, say n0= 1, should have little effect on the solutions, if the other
flux integers k and N are already very large. It would seem, then, difficult to understand
how a massless solution with large dilaton can suddenly turn into a massive solution with
small dilaton when n0is turned on.
CP1F2and N ∝?
CP3F6, gs∼ N1/4/k5/4,
whereas the curvature radius R/ls ∼ N1/4/k1/4. In particular, for N ? k5one has a
As we will see in section 3, in general this “small deformation” intuition is flawed.
When trying to express the dilaton in terms of the flux parameters, in the massive case
one ends up with expressions in which F0multiplies other, large flux parameters. Hence
F0 can have a large effect on the behavior of the solutions even if it is the smallest
allowed quantum. As it turns out, as we increase N, the dilaton does start growing
as gs ∼ N1/4/k5/4, as in the massless case. But, before it can become large, gsenters
a second phase, where it starts decreasing with N. Specifically, for N larger than the
“critical value” k3/n2
0, we have gs∼ N−1/6n−5/6
. Both behaviors are visible in figure 2.
Notice that what happens for these N = 1 solutions is not entirely a consequence of
the general argument in section 2. One could have found, for example, that for large N
the radius of curvature became small in string units. In such a situation, our supergravity
argument would not have been able to rule out a large dilaton; even worse, it would
actually generically predict it to be large. It is interesting to ask whether there are
situations where that happens. Of course, one would not trust such strongly–curved,
strongly–coupled solutions, since we have no control over them; but, if they existed, they
would suggest that perhaps strongly coupled solutions do exist and need to be understood.
To look for such a different behavior, we turn to a second class of massive solutions,
still on AdS4× CP3, but this time with N = 2 supersymmetry. Such gravity solutions
were predicted to exist via AdS/CFT , and found as first–order perturbations in F0
of the N = 6 solution in . The field theory duals are again Chern–Simons–matter
theories whose levels do not sum up to zero. In section 4 we point out that these theories
have certain gauge–invariant monopole operators, whose mass (which is protected by
supersymmetry) is independent of the rank N. This suggests the existence of wrapped
branes that remain light in the large N limit. This cannot happen for backgrounds which
are both weakly–coupled and weakly–curved.
To see what happens at large N, in section 5 we find these N = 2 gravity solutions,
generalizing the construction in . We reduce the equations of motion and supersymme-
try equations to a system of three ODEs for three functions, which we study numerically.
As in section 3, we then study the behavior of gsas a function of the flux integers. We
find exactly the same phenomenon as in section 3: gsfollows initially the same growth
observed for the N = 6 solutions, and departs from that behavior before it can get large.
The existence of the light states found in section 4 is not a consequence of strong coupling,
but is instead explained by the fact that the internal space develops a conifold singularity
where branes can wrap a small cycle. We compute numerically the mass of D2–D0 bound
states wrapping the vanishing cycle, and we reproduce very accurately the mass predicted
in section 4 from AdS/CFT.
Hence, in both examples we examined, the curvature stays bounded almost every-
where, and the dilaton does not become strongly coupled. Our argument in section 2
does not rule out the possibility of solutions with large curvature and large dilaton, and
it would be nice to find a way to rule them out. In general, such solutions would not be
trustworthy, but in some situations one might understand them via chains of dualities.
For example, in some cases it might be possible to T–dualize to a massless solution with
small curvature, which in turn might be liftable to M–theory, along the lines of . The
behavior found in the two examples analyzed in this paper may not be universal, and we
expect the AdS/CFT correspondence to be very helpful in any further progress.
One motivation for understanding the strong coupling limit of massive type IIA string
theory is the Sakai–Sugimoto model  of holographic QCD, which has Nf D8–branes
separating a region of space with F0 = 0 from a region with F0 = Nf/(2πls). The
solution of this model is known in the IR, where it is weakly coupled and weakly curved
and the D8–branes may be treated as probes; but it is not clear what happens in the
UV, where, before putting in the D8–branes, the coupling became large (see  for an
analysis of the leading order back-reaction of the D8–branes in this model). Our analysis
rules out the possibility that the region of massive type IIA string theory between the
D8–branes becomes strongly coupled while remaining weakly curved in the UV. It would
be interesting to understand whether there is a sensible UV completion of this model,
and, if so, what it looks like.
2A general bound on the dilaton
In this section, we will find a bound for the dilaton for type IIA solutions with non-zero
0-form flux F0?= 0, assuming that the ten–dimensional curvature is small.
The argument is simply based on the equations of motion of type IIA supergravity.
Note that due to supersymmetry, these equations are actually exact (at two-derivative
order) and can be trusted even when the coupling constant becomes large. The Einstein
equations of motion in the string frame take the form
RMN+ 2∇M∇Nφ −1
2(k − 1)!FMM2...MkFNM2...Mk−
The equations (2.1) are valid at every point in spacetime, away from possible branes or
orientifolds. On such objects, we would need to include further localized terms, but they
will not be needed in what follows. In fact, all we need is a certain linear combination:
let us multiply (2.1) by e0Me0N, where e are the inverse vielbeine; 0 is a frame index in
the time direction. We can now use frame indices to massage T00on the right hand side:
2(k − 1)!F0A2...AkF0A2...Ak+
(k − 1)!F0A2...AkF0A2...Ak− η00
2(k − 1)!F0A2...AkF0A2...Ak+
We have defined the decomposition Fk= e0∧F0,k−1+F⊥,k. (In particular, F⊥,0is simply
F0.) Applying this to (2.1), we get
RMN+ 2∇M∇Nφ −1
Again, this is satisfied at every spacetime point (away from possible sources): there is no
integral in (2.4). RMN needs to be small in the supergravity approximation. In fact, all
the remaining terms in the parenthesis on the left-hand side need to be small too: they
are all two–derivative NS–NS terms. If any of them is large in string units, we cannot
trust the two–derivative action any more; hence that parenthesis needs to be ? l−2
On the other hand, when F0?= 0, the right-hand side of (2.4) is at least of order one in
string units. To see this, recall that RR fluxes are quantized, in appropriate sense. The
Fkare actually not closed under d, but under (d − H∧). However, the fluxes
˜Fk= e−B(F0+ F2+ F4+ F6)
are closed; these satisfy then the quantization law
˜Fk= nk(2πls)k−1, (2.6)
where nkare integers and Caare closed cycles. In particular, F0= n0/(2πls). Since the
right-hand side of (2.4) is a sum of positive terms, we get that it is > 1/l2
order one factors).
s(up to irrelevant
Let us now put these remarks together. Since the parenthesis on the left-hand side is
s, and the right-hand side is > 1/l2
s, we have
eφ? 1 . (2.7)
For generic solutions, the parenthesis on the left hand side of (2.4) will be of order
1/R2, where R is a local radius of curvature. In that case, we can estimate, then,
which of course agrees with (2.7).
When F0= 0, the conclusion (2.7) is not valid because all the remaining terms on the
right hand side can be made small, in spite of flux quantization. For example, assume all
the components of the metric are of the same order 1/R2everywhere, and that H = 0.
Then, the integral of F is an integer nk, but the value of F2
kat a point will be of order
(nk/Rk)2(in string units). At large R, this can be made arbitrarily small. This is what
happens in most type IIA flux compactifications with F0= 0; the dilaton can then be
made large, and the limit φ → ∞ reveals a new phase of string theory, approximated by
To summarize, we have shown that F0?= 0 implies that the dilaton is small (2.7), as
long as the two–derivative action (the supergravity approximation) is valid.
3The N = 1 solutions
In this section, we will see how the general arguments of section 2 are implemented in the
N = 1 vacua of .
3.1The N = 1 solutions
We recall here briefly the main features of the N = 1 solutions in  on AdS4× CP3.
The metric is simply a product:
Topologically, CP3is an S2fibration over S4. We use this fact to write the internal metric
where xiare such that?3
radius, related to the AdS radius by
i=1(xi)2= 1, Aiare the components of an SU(2) connection on
S4(with p1= 1), and ds2
S4 is the round metric on S4(with radius one). R is an overall
RAdS≡ L =R
(2σ + 1). (3.3)
The parameter σ in (3.2) is in the interval [2/5,2]; this implies, in particular, that L/R is
of order 1 for these N = 1 solutions. For σ = 2, (3.2) is the usual Fubini–Study metric,
whose isometry group is SU(4) ? SO(6). For σ ?= 2, the isometry group is simply the
SO(5) that rotates the base S4.
The metric (3.1) depends on the two parameters L and σ. A third parameter in the
supergravity solution is the string coupling gs. Yet another parameter comes from the
B field. For 2/5 < σ < 2, supersymmetry requires the NS-NS 3-form H to be non–zero
(see [10, Eq. (2.2)]). One can solve that constraint by writing
?(2 − σ)(σ − 2/5)
σ + 2
where β is a closed two–form [10, Eq. (4.5)]. Because of gauge invariance B∼= B + dλ1,
the space of such β is nothing but the second de Rham cohomology of the internal space,
H2(CP3) = R. So we have one such parameter, which we can take to be the integral of
β over the generating two–cycle in H2,
B = −
J + β (3.4)
where we normalized b so that large gauge transformations shift it by an integer.
To summarize, the N = 1 supergravity solutions depend on the four parameters
3.2Inverting the flux quantization equations
We now apply the flux quantization conditions (2.6). It is convenient to separate the
contribution from the zero–mode β:
k(2πls)k−1, which can be computed explicitly . We have
we then define?˜Fk|β=0≡ nb
10 0 0
l = L/(2πls) , (3.8)
(2 − σ)(5σ − 2)
(2σ + 1)
√2σ + 1 ,
,f4(σ) = −25π2
3 · 52
(σ − 1)(2σ + 1)5/2
σ2(σ + 2)2
(2 − σ)(5σ − 2) ,
(σ − 1)
(σ + 2)
f6(σ) = −27π3
3 · 57/2
(σ2− 12σ − 4)(2σ + 1)7/2
σ2(σ + 2)2
Equation (3.7) is [12, Eq. (4.26)], which in this paper we chose to reexpress in terms
of l (the AdS radius in string units) rather than r (the internal size in string units), to
harmonize notation with section 5.
We want to invert these formulas and get expressions for the parameters (l,gs,σ,b)
in terms of the flux integers ni, as explicitly as possible. If one assumes b = 0, this
is easy ; with b ?= 0, it is a bit more complicated. A good strategy is to consider
combinations of the flux integers that do not change under changes of the b field: in
addition to n0, two other combinations are
We then find
2− 2n0n4= (f2
?2(σ − 1)(4σ2− 1)
?3(−6 + 17σ − 6σ2)(2σ + 1)3/2
0n6− 3n0n2n4= (f3
We see that (3.11) and (3.12) give two independent expressions for l/gs; this implies
64(σ − 1)3(2σ − 1)3
27σ2(−6 + 17σ − 6σ2)2≡ ρ(σ) . (3.13)
This determines σ implicitly in terms of the fluxes. The function ρ(σ) (which we plot in
figure 1) diverges at σ =17−√145
∼ .41, and has zeros at σ =1
have multiplicity three, and hence they are also extrema and inflection points. Moreover,
it has a minimum at σ ∼ .65; and it goes to 1 for both σ = 2 and σ =2
We can now combine the equation for n0 in (3.7), which determines gsl, with the
expression for l/gsin either (3.11) or (3.12). We prefer using the latter, since it turns out
to contain functions of σ which are of order one on most of the parameter space:
2and σ = 1. These zeros
(2 − σ)1/4(5σ − 2)1/4σ1/3
(2σ + 1)1/2(−6 + 17σ − 6σ2)1/6
(2 − σ)1/4(5σ − 2)1/4(−6 + 17σ − 6σ2)1/6
The function in the expression for l diverges at σ =17−√145
and 2, whereas the function in the expression for gsvanishes for σ =2
∼ .41 and vanishes for σ =2
Finally, the second row of equation (3.7) determines b in terms of n2, n0 and the
remaining fields l, gs and σ. One could eliminate l and gs from that expression using
(3.14) and (3.15), but we will not bother to do so.
Figure 1: A plot of the function ρ(σ) in (3.13).
3.3A phase transition
We will start by taking for simplicity
n4= 0 ,(3.16)
and we will call
n2≡ k ,n6≡ N(3.17)
as in .
In this case, (3.13) reads
1 + 3Nn2
From the graph in figure 1, we see that the behavior of the solution depends crucially on
k3 . If for example
we have ρ(σ) ∼ 1. Looking at figure 1, we see that a possible solution is σ = 2. Around
this point, ρ goes linearly; so, if we write σ = 2−δσ, we have δσ ∼
(3.15) we then have
k3 . From (3.14) and
l ∼ δσ1/4
This is the same behavior as in the N = 6 solution .
If, on the other hand,
we have ρ(σ) ∼ 0. The possible solutions are σ ? 1 or σ ?1
in the expressions for l and gsin (3.14) and (3.15) are then both of order one. We have
2. The σ–dependent functions
Notice that this behavior occurs for example in the nearly K¨ ahler solutions of .
For those vacua, we have l5/gs= n6and 1/(lgs) = n0, which gives the same behavior as
in (3.22). Notice also that σ = 1 corresponds indeed to a nearly K¨ ahler metric.
If one were to find a Chern–Simons dual to a vacuum whose only relevant fluxes are
n6and n0, such as the nearly K¨ ahler solutions, it would be natural to identify n6with
a rank N and n0with a Chern–Simons coupling˜k (because F0induces a Chern–Simons
coupling on D2–branes). In such a dual,
coupling. We see then that l and gsN in (3.22) are both functions of this˜λ, as expected.
From (3.22) one can calculate the finite temperature free energy to be βF ∼ V2T2 N2
at strong coupling βF ∼ V2T2N3/2k1/2.
In figure 2 we show a graph of gsas a function of N; we see both behaviors (3.20) and
˜k≡˜λ would then be the new ’t Hooft
0 , which grows with a higher power of N than in the massless case, for which
Figure 2: The behavior of gsas a function of N = n6, for n2= k = 100, n4= 0 and
n0= 1. We see both the growth in the first phase (3.20), for n6? n3
decay in the second phase (3.22), for n6? n3
0= 106, and the
Our analysis above was limited for simplicity to the case n4= 0, but it is easy to argue
that also for other values of n4, gscannot become large. Equation (3.15) tells us that
and m ≡ n3
from above in the massive theory by the maximal value of |f(σ)|. If m = 0, then (3.12)
implies that (−6+17σ −6σ2) also vanishes, and we can then use (3.13) to rewrite (3.15)
in the form gs=˜f(σ)/n1/2
˜ m1/4, where˜f(σ) is again bounded in the relevant range and
˜ m ≡ n2
maximal value of |˜f(σ)|, but this must be true since m and ˜ m cannot vanish at the same
time (as is clear from (3.11) and (3.12)). Thus, for any integer fluxes with n0?= 0, gsis
bounded from above by a number of order one.
0 m1/6, where f(σ) is bounded from above in the relevant range of values,
0n6− 3n0n2n4is an integer. Thus, if m ?= 0, then gsis clearly bounded
2−2n0n4is another integer. Thus, if ˜ m ?= 0 then gsis bounded from above by the
We will now see that the “phase transition” between (3.20) and (3.22) has a sharp con-
sequence on the behavior of the probe branes in the geometry. We will consider branes
which are particles in AdS4and that wrap different cycles in the internal space CP3.
Not all such wrapped branes are consistent. In the N = 6 case, where F0= 0 and
tadpole for the world–sheet gauge field A, because of the coupling
CP1F2 = n2 ?= 0, the action for a D2-brane particle wrapping the internal CP1has a
R×CP1A ∧ F2= n2
(the R factor in the D2-brane worldvolume being time). D0-branes, in contrast, have no
such problem. In the field theory, they correspond  to gauge–invariant operators made
of monopole operators and bifundamentals.
For the solutions with both F0? n0?= 0 and?
have a tadpole. If one considers a bound state of nD2D2 branes and nD0D0 branes, the
tadpole for A is
CP1F2? n2?= 0, both D2’s and D0’s
For relatively prime n0and n2, the minimal choice that makes this vanish is nD2= n0
and nD0 = −n2. These branes also correspond to a mix of monopole operators and
bifundamentals; we will discuss analogous configurations in more detail in section 5.4.
Consider now the case n0= 1, and n2= k ? 1. Here we should consider a bound state
of one D2 brane and k D0 branes. In the context of AdS/CFT, all masses are naturally
measured in units of the AdS mass scale mAdS≡
is of order L. The masses of a D2 and of a D0 particle would then be (setting the string
scale to one)
L; recall also from (3.3) that R
Thus, the bound states we are considering here (the particles that have no world–sheet
tadpole) have a mass of order
√k2+ L4. (3.26)
Which of the two terms dominates? it turns out that the answer depends on which of
the two phases, (3.20) or (3.22), we are considering. In both phases the ratio of the two
masses is a function of
A simple computation gives that, in the first phase (3.20), the D2’s mass is ∼
whereas the k D0 branes have mass k ×k. The D0’s dominate the mass, which then goes
In the second phase, the D2’s mass is ∼ N2/3, whereas the k D0’s mass goes like
k × N1/3. Hence the D2 dominates. The mass then goes like N2/3
Another type of branes that have no tadpole problems are D4 branes. In the field
theory, these correspond  to baryon operators. In AdS units, these have a mass of
(3.22), which looks reasonable for a baryon.
gs. Interestingly, this turns out to be of order N in both phases (3.20) and
3.5Field theory interpretation
The field theories dual to the vacua analyzed in this section were proposed in . Because
of the low amount of supersymmetry, we do not expect to be able to make here any useful
check of this duality. However, we can use our gravity results to make some predictions
about those field theories, under some assumptions.
First of all, let us recall briefly the N = 1 field theories defined in . They are similar
to the N = 6 theory of [9,18], in that they also have a gauge group U(N1)×U(N2). The
matter content can be organized in (complexified) N = 1 superfields XI, I = 1,...,4;
they transform in the (¯ N1,N2) representation of the gauge group. The biggest difference is
that the Chern–Simons couplings for the two gauge groups are now unrelated: we will call
them k1and −k2. For k1?= k2, it is no longer possible to achieve N = 6 supersymmetry,
and there are several choices as to the amount of flavor symmetry and supersymmetry that
one can preserve. In this section, we consider a choice that leads to N = 1 supersymmetry
and SO(5) flavor symmetry; in the following sections we will consider a different choice,
that leads to N = 2 and SO(4) flavor symmetry.
This theory can be written in terms of N = 1 superfields; the superpotential then reads
terms are manifestly invariant under Sp(2)=SO(5), as promised. When k1= k2≡ k, the
theory has N = 6 supersymmetry when the parameters are c1= −c2= 2π/k, c3= −4π/k.
For k1?= k2, this choice is no longer possible, as we already mentioned. In spite of there
being only N = 1 supersymmetry, however, it was argued in  that there still exists
a choice of cithat makes the theory superconformal, as long as k1− k2is small enough
with respect to the individual ki.
KXL]. Notice that all the
If we define the ’t Hooft couplings
,λ±= λ1± λ2, (3.27)
the N = 6 theory would correspond to λ+= 0. The argument in  then says that there
is a CFT in this space of theories if λ+? λ−, although at strong coupling it is difficult
to quantify just how much smaller it has to be.
Let us now try to translate in terms of these field theories the “phase transition” we
saw in section 3.3. To do so, we can use the dictionary (5.35) between the field theory
ranks and levels on one side, and flux integers on the other. This dictionary is also valid
for N = 1 theories . The phase transition in section 3.3 happens for N ∼ n3
when λ+? λ−we have n0/N ∼ λ+/λ2
−, n2/N ∼ 1/λ−. So the phase transition happens
In particular, the “ABJM phase” (3.20) corresponds to λ+??λ−; the “nearly–K¨ ahler”
described by the field theories described in  and reviewed in this section. However,
given the low amount of supersymmetry, this can only be a conjecture at this point.
phase (3.22) corresponds to λ+??λ−. At strong coupling, then, there is an intermediate
?λ−? λ+? λ−, where it is possible that the second phase (3.22) is also
Rather than trying to test further this correspondence, we will now turn our attention
to N = 2 theories, on which there is much better control.
4 Monopoles in N = 2 Chern–Simons–matter theo-
In this section, we will recall some general facts about monopole operators in Chern–
Simons–matter theories, and we will apply them to a particular quiver theory, similar to
the ABJM theory; its gravity dual will be examined in section 5.
4.1Construction of monopole operators in general
Consider a d = 3 gauge theory with gauge group?m
in the IR, then these must be dimension 2 operators in the IR. There may or may not be
operators charged under the corresponding U(1)mflavor symmetry; if they exist we will
call them monopole operators.
i=1U(Ni). Then there are m currents,
ji= ∗ Tr(Fi), which are conserved by the Bianchi identity. If the theory flows to a CFT
In a conformal field theory, it is convenient to use radial quantization and consider
the theory on R × S2. Let us apply the state–operator correspondence to a monopole
operator, with charge vector ni. This results in a state in the theory on an S2, such that
S2Tr(Fi) = 2πni. We will denote the diagonal values of Fiby wa
i)volS2 ; (4.1)
taking the trace over the gauge group U(Ni), we have that the magnetic charges are
We are interested in d = 3 N = 2 Chern–Simons–matter theories. We can take them to
be weakly interacting at short distances by adding Yang–Mills terms as regulators [19–22].
In such a regulated theory, there are BPS classical configurations with the gauge field as
in (4.1) and non–trivial values for the scalar fields. The BPS equations on R1,2include the
Bogomolnyi equations Fi= ∗Dσi, where σiis the adjoint scalar in the vector multiplet.
In R × S2, this equation is different because the metric needs to be rescaled, and the
fields need to be transformed accordingly; the equations then read Fi= σivolS2. Notice in
particular that the σiare constant. There are also other BPS equations, which involve the
other scalars in the theory (for explicit computations for N = 3 theories, see [20, §3.2],
and in N = 2 language, ).
After adding the regulating Yang-Mills term, g2
N = 2 vector multiplet should be treated classically, while the chiral matter fields should
Y Mbecomes small in the UV, so the