• Linear response;
  • Mesoscopic transport;
  • Persistent currents


Based on a general linear response approach we provide a systematic and unified survey of existing theories on persistent currents. The central notions in this context are equilibrium and dynamic persistent currents which are analyzed with respect to their similarities and differences in the canonical and grand canonical ensemble. We present criteria which relate the existence of persistent currents to the equipartition law and ergodicity for current correlators. We find that in additive Fermion systems at low temperatures both kinds of persistent currents coincide in the canonical ensemble whereas they differ in the grand canonical ensemble. Comparing different works on averaged persistent currents in diffusive mesoscopic rings within our framework and discussing several methods of calculating canonical currents with the help of grand canonical ensembles, we clarify some misunderstandings which have arisen in methodologically different approaches to the phenomenon of persistent currents. Finally, we relate the presence of dynamic persistent currents to the Hall conductivity on a finite cylinder and the center coordinate Kubo formula for the Hall conductivity.