AQFT and operator algebra
homotopical algebraic quantum field theory
A $C^*$-category can be thought of as a horizontal categorification of a $C^*$-algebra. Equivalently, a $C^*$-algebra $A$ is thought of as a pointed one-object $C^*$-category $\mathbf{B}A$ (the delooping of $A$). Accordingly, a more systematic name for $C^*$-categories would be $C^*$-algebroids.
A $C^*$-category is a $*$-category enriched in the category Ban of Banach spaces such that:
Every arrow $a \in Hom(x,y)$ satisfies the $C^*$-identity ${\|a^* a\|} = {\|a\|}^2$.
Composition satisfies ${\|{b a}\|} \leq {\|b\|} {\|a\|}$ for all composable pairs of arrows $a$ and $b$. (That is, we give $Ban$ the projective tensor product.)
For every arrow $a \in Hom(x,y)$ there exists an arrow $b \in Hom(x,x)$ such that $a^\ast a = b^ \ast b$.
Condition (3) above is equivalent to requiring that every arrow of the form $x^* x$ is positive in the sense of $C^*$-algebras. Unlike $C^*$-algebras, this does not follow automatically, as can be seen by considering the category with two objects $x,y$ with all morphism sets a copy of $\mathbb{C}$ and with involution defined on $a \in Hom(x,y)$ by $a^* = \overline{a}$ if $x=y$ and $a^* = -\overline{a}$ otherwise.
The $C^\ast$-representation category of a weak Hopf $C^\ast$-algebra (see there for details) is naturally a rigid monoidal $C^\ast$-category.
The category $Hilb$ of Hilbert spaces and bounded linear maps is a $C^*$-category.
$C^*$-algebras can be represented as algebras of bounded linear operators on some choice of Hilbert space, using the G.N.S. construction. $C^*$-categories have an analogue of the G.N.S. construction that allows them to represented on the category $Hilb$ of Hilbert spaces and bounded linear maps.
For any (small) $C^*$-category $\mathcal{C}$ there exists a faithful $*$-functor $\rho \colon \mathcal{C} \to Hilb$.