The formation of traffic jams on highways, the clustering of particles in shaken granular gases, and the emergence of macroscopically-linked hubs in complex networks are all examples of real-space condensation. This phase transition, in which a finite fraction of the "mass" in a macroscopic system is concentrated in a microscopic fraction of its volume, is rather ubiquitous in nonequilibrium systems. In this talk, I shall present some of the insights into these phenomena garnered from the study of prototypical toy models such as the zero range process (ZRP). After reviewing static properties of the condensation transition, I shall focus on two unexpected features recently discovered: (1) Spatial correlations, which generically exist in driven systems, may give rise to a collective motion of the condensate through the system. Using simplified models, the mechanism behind this motion is explained and shown to be rather generic. (2) When the current flowing through a system is conditioned to have highly atypical values, condensates may form in systems that otherwise do not condense. I will present microscopic and macroscopic approaches to analyze this novel scenario of condensation.

Back to seminar page