Igor Shovkovy (Arizona State University)
Chiral symmetry and its breaking play a profound role in the theory of strong interactions. Over the years, numerous advances have been made in understanding the dynamics responsible for chiral symmetry breaking in vacuum and its restoration at high temperatures. One of the instructive tools in studying the underlying physics is a strong background magnetic field. On the one hand, such a field acts as a catalyst by helping the symmetry breaking via the dimensional reduction and an increased density of low-energy states. On the other, the confinement is eroded by an enhanced screening from the low-energy states in the strong magnetic field. The outcome is a subtle interplay between the two competing dynamics that I will attempt to review. I will also discuss the recent advances in pseudo-relativistic condensed matter systems, in which chirality plays an equally important role and a number of interesting phenomena could be realized in the presence of strong magnetic fields.