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A Skyrmion is a kind of instanton/soliton in certain gauge field theories. The concept exists quite generally (see Rho-Zahed 16), but its original use (Skyrme 62), and still one of the most important ones, is as a model for baryons in a putative theory of non-perturbative quantum chromodynamics, the formulation of the latter being by and large an open problem (due to confinement, see mass gap problem).

In the Sakai-Sugimoto model

The Skyrmion model of baryons appears in the Witten-Sakai-Sugimoto model for non-perturbative QCD, induced by the higher WZW term of the D8-brane (Sakai-Sugimoto 04, section 5.2, Sakai-Sugimoto 05, section 3.3), and it becomes equivalent here to a model of baryons by wrapped D4-branes in an intersecting D-brane model (Sugimoto 16, 15.4.1).

graphics grabbed from Sugimoto 16


From Rho-Zahed 10, Preface:

Two path-breaking developments took place consecutively in physics in the years 1983 and 1984: First in nuclear physics with the rediscovery of Skyrme’s seminal idea on the structure of baryons and then a “revolution” in string theory in the following year.

[][\cdots] at that time the most unconventional idea of Skyrme that fermionic baryons could emerge as topological solitons from π-meson cloud was confirmed in the context of quantum chromodynamics (QCD) in the large number-of-color (N cN_c) limit. It also confirmed how the solitonic structure of baryons, in particular, the nucleons, reconciled nuclear physics — which had been making an impressive progress phenomenologically, aided mostly by experiments — with QCD, the fundamental theory of strong interactions. Immediately after the rediscovery of what is now generically called “skyrmion” came the first string theory revolution which then took most of the principal actors who played the dominant role in reviving the skyrmion picture away from that problem and swept them into the mainstream of string theory reaching out to a much higher energy scale. This was in some sense unfortunate for the skyrmion model per se but fortunate for nuclear physics, for it was then mostly nuclear theorists who picked up what was left behind in the wake of the celebrated string revolution and proceeded to uncover fascinating novel aspects of nuclear structure which otherwise would have eluded physicists, notably concepts such as the ‘Cheshire Cat phenomenon’ in hadronic dynamics.

What has taken place since 1983 is a beautiful story in physics. It has not only profoundly influenced nuclear physics — which was Skyrme’s original aim — but also brought to light hitherto unforseen phenomena in other areas of physics, such as condensed matter physics, astrophysics? and string theory.



The original article is

Further developments and review:

  • M. Rho, Ismail Zahed (eds.) The Multifaceted Skyrmion, World Scientific 2016 (doi:10.1142/9710)

See also

Relation to instantons, calorons, solitons, monopoles

The construction of Skyrmions from instantons is due to

The relation between skyrmions, instantons, calorons, solitons and monopoles is usefully reviewed and further developed in

  • Josh Cork, Calorons, symmetry, and the soliton trinity, PhD thesis, University of Leeds 2018 (web)

  • Josh Cork, Skyrmions from calorons, J. High Energ. Phys. (2018) 2018: 137 (arXiv:1810.04143)

based on

  • Paul Sutcliffe, Skyrmions, instantons and holography, JHEP 1008:019, 2010 (arXiv:1003.0023)

In string theory

In string theory, specifically in the AdS-QCD correspondence in the form of the Witten-Sakai-Sugimoto model the skyrmion was found in

Review is in

Last revised on December 11, 2018 at 05:54:51. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.