Spectra of D-branes with Higgs vevs. (English) Zbl 1092.81056

Summary: We continue previous work on counting open string states between D-branes by considering open strings between D-branes with nonzero Higgs vevs, and in particular, nilpotent Higgs vevs, as arise, for example, when studying D-branes in orbifolds. Ordinarily Higgs vevs can be interpreted as moving the D-brane, but nilpotent Higgs vevs have zero eigenvalues, and so their interpretation is more interesting – for example, they often correspond to nonreduced schemes, which furnishes an important link in understanding old results relating classical D-brane moduli spaces in orbifolds to Hilbert schemes, resolutions of quotient spaces, and the McKay correspondence. We give a sheaf-theoretic description of D-branes with Higgs vevs, including nilpotent Higgs vevs, and check that description by noting that Ext groups between the sheaves modelling the D-branes, do in fact correctly count open string states. In particular, our analysis expands the types of sheaves which admit on-shell physical interpretations, which is an important step for making derived categories useful for physics.


81T30 String and superstring theories; other extended objects (e.g., branes) in quantum field theory
83E30 String and superstring theories in gravitational theory
14D21 Applications of vector bundles and moduli spaces in mathematical physics (twistor theory, instantons, quantum field theory)
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