Quantum Capacity and Vacuum Compressibility of Spacetime: Thermal Fields

Hing Tong Cho, Jen Tsung Hsiang, Bei Lok Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


An important yet perplexing result from work in the 1990s and 2000s is the near-unity value of the ratio of fluctuations in the vacuum energy density of quantum fields to the mean in a collection of generic spacetimes. This was carried out by way of calculating the noise kernels which are the correlators of the stress-energy tensor of quantum fields. In this paper, we revisit this issue via a quantum thermodynamics approach, by calculating two quintessential thermodynamic quantities: the heat capacity and the quantum compressibility of some model geometries filled with a quantum field at high and low temperatures. This is because heat capacity at constant volume gives a measure of the fluctuations of the energy density to the mean. When this ratio approaches or exceeds unity, the validity of the canonical distribution is called into question. Likewise, a system’s compressibility at constant pressure is a criterion for the validity of grand canonical ensemble. We derive the free energy density and, from it, obtain the expressions for these two thermodynamic quantities for thermal and quantum fields in 2d Casimir space, 2d Einstein cylinder and 4d (S1 × S3) Einstein universe. To examine the dependence on the dimensionality of space, for completeness, we have also derived these thermodynamic quantities for the Einstein universes with even-spatial dimensions: S1 × S2 and S1 × S4. With this array of spacetimes we can investigate the thermodynamic stability of quantum matter fields in them and make some qualitative observations on the compatibility condition for the co-existence between quantum fields and spacetimes, a fundamental issue in the quantum and gravitation conundrum.

Original languageEnglish
Article number291
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • curved spacetime
  • heat capacity
  • quantum fields
  • vacuum compressibility


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