Quantum Kinetic Approach to the Calculation of Thermal Transport and the Nernst Effect

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Recently, we developed a user friendly scheme based on the quantum kinetic equation for studying thermal transport phenomena in the presence of interactions and disorder . This scheme is suitable for both a systematic perturbative calculation as well as a general analysis. We believe that this method presents an adequate alternative to the Kubo formula, which for thermal transport is rather cumbersome. We have applied this approach in the study of the Nernst signal in superconducting films above the critical temperature. We showed that the strong Nernst signal observed in amorphous superconducting films, far above Tc, is caused by the fluctuations of the superconducting order parameter. We demonstrated a striking agreement between our theoretical calculations and the experimental data at various temperatures and magnetic fields. My talk will include a general description of the quantum kinetic approach, but mainly I will concentrate on the Nernst effect in superconducting films. I will use this example to discuss some subtle issues in the theoretical study of thermal phenomena that we encountered while calculating the Nernst coefficient. In particular, I will explain how the Nernst theorem (the third law of thermodynamics) imposes a strict constraint on the magnitude of the Nernst effect.