Universal scaling behavior of non-equilibrium phase transitions

Non-equilibrium critical phenomena have attracted a lot of research interest in the recent decades. Similar to equilibrium critical phenomena, the concept of universality remains the major tool to order the great variety of non-equilibrium phase transitions systematically. All systems belonging to a given universality class share the same set of critical exponents, and certain scaling functions become identical near the critical point.

It is known that the scaling functions vary more widely between different universality classes than the exponents. Thus, universal scaling functions offer a sensitive and accurate test for a system's universality class.

On the other hand, universal scaling functions demonstrate the robustness of a given universality class impressively. Unfortunately, most studies focus on the determination of the critical exponents, neglecting the universal scaling functions.

In this work a particular class of non-equilibrium critical phenomena is considered, the so-called absorbing phase transitions. Absorbing phase transitions are expected to occur in physical, chemical as well as biological systems, and a detailed introduction is presented. The universal scaling behavior of two different universality classes is analyzed in detail, namely the directed percolation and the Manna universality class. Especially, directed percolation is the most common universality class of absorbing phase transitions. The presented picture gallery of universal scaling functions includes steady state, dynamical as well as finite size scaling functions.

In particular, the effect of an external field conjugated to the order parameter is investigated. Incorporating the conjugated field, it is possible to determine the equation of state, the susceptibility, and to perform a modified finite-size scaling analysis appropriate for absorbing phase transitions. Focusing on these equations, the obtained results can be applied to other non-equilibrium continuous phase transitions observed in numerical simulations or experiments. Thus, we think that the presented picture gallery of universal scaling functions is valuable for future work.

Additionally to the manifestation of universality classes, universal scaling functions are useful in order to check renormalization group results quantitatively. Since the renormalization group theory is the basis of our understanding of critical phenomena, it is of fundamental interest to examine the accuracy of the obtained results. Due to the continuing improvement of computer hardware, accurate numerical data have become available, resulting in a fruitful interplay between numerical investigations and renormalization group analyzes.


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