Geometry and Topology Seminar
Plateau's problem asks whether every boundary curve in 3-space is spanned by an area minimizing surface. Various interpretations of this problem have been solved using eg. geometric measure theory. Froehlich and Struwe proposed another approach, in which the desired surface is produced using smooth sections of a twisted line bundle over the complement of the boundary curve. The idea is to consider sections which minimize an analogue of the Allen--Cahn functional (a classical model for phase transition phenomena) and show that these concentrate energy around a solution of Plateau's problem. After some background on the link between phase transition models and minimal surfaces, I will describe new work with Marco Guaraco in which we produce smooth solutions of Plateau's problem using the approach described above.