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Skyrme Sphalerons of an O(3)-oe Model and the Calculation of Transition Rates at Finite Temperature
(1997)

The reduced O(3)-oe model with an O(3) ! O(2) symmetry breaking potential is considered with an additional Skyrmionic term, i. e. a totally antisymmetric quartic term in the field derivatives. This Skyrme term does not affect the classical static equations of motion which, however, allow an unstable sphaleron solution. Quantum fluctuations around the static classical solution are considered for the determination of the rate of thermally induced transitions between topologically distinct vacua mediated by the sphaleron. The main technical effect of the Skyrme term is to produce an extra measure factor in one of the fluctuation path integrals which is therefore evaluated using a measure-modified Fourier-Matsubara decomposition (this being one of the few cases permitting this explicit calculation). The resulting transition rate is valid in a temperature region different from that of the original Skyrme-less model, and the crossover from transitions dominated by thermal fluctuations to those dominated by tunneling at the lower limit of this range depends on the strength of the Skyrme coupling.

A formula suitable for a quantitative evaluation of the tunneling effect in a ferromagnetic particle is derived with the help of the instanton method. The tunneling between n-th degenerate states of neighboring wells is dominated by a periodic pseudoparticle configuration. The low-lying level-splitting previously obtained with the LSZ method in field theory in which the tunneling is viewed as the transition of n bosons induced by the usual(vacuum) instanton is recovered.The observation made with our new result is that the tunneling effect increases at excited states. The results should be useful in analyzing results of experimental tests of macroscopic quantum coherence in ferromagnetic particles.

The tunneling splitting of the energy levels of a ferromagnetic particle in the presence of an applied magnetic field - previously derived only for the ground state with the path integral method - is obtained in a simple way from Schr"odinger theory. The origin of the factors entering the result is clearly understood, in particular the effect of the asymmetry of the barriers of the potential. The method should appeal particularly to experimentalists searching for evidence of macroscopic spin tunneling.