High Energy Theory Seminar
I discuss the conditions under which Higgs and confining regimes in gauge theories with fundamental representation matter fields can be sharply distinguished. It is widely believed that these regimes are smoothly connected unless they are distinguished by the realization of global symmetries. However, I show that when a $U(1)$ global symmetry is spontaneously broken in both the confining and Higgs regimes, the two phases can be separated by a phase boundary. The phase transition between the two regimes may be detected by a novel topological vortex order parameter. We illustrate these ideas by explicit calculations in gauge theories in three spacetime dimensions.