Effective interactions and block diagonalization in quantum-mechanical problems
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Many models of condensed-matter systems have interactions with unexpected features: for example, exclusively distant-neighbor spin–orbit interactions. On first inspection these interactions seem physically questionable in view of the basis states used. However, such interactions can be physically reasonable if the model is an effective one, in which the basis states are not exactly as described, but instead include components of states removed from the problem. Mathematically, an effective model results from partitioning the Hamiltonian matrix, which can be accomplished by energy-dependent or energy-independent methods. We examine effective models of both types, with a special emphasis on energy-independent approaches. We show that an appropriate choice of basis makes the partitioning simpler and more accurate. We illustrate the method by calculating the spin–orbit splitting in graphene.