Coupled, multi-field models of inflation can provide several attractive features unavailable in the case of a single inflaton field. These models have a rich dynamical structure resulting from the interaction of the fields and their associated fluctuations. We present a formalism to study the nonequilibrium dynamics of coupled scalar fields. This formalism solves the problem of renormalizing interacting models in a transparent way using dimensional regularization. The evolution is generated by a renormalized effective Lagrangian which incorporates the dynamics of the mean fields and their associated fluctuations at one-loop order. We apply our method to two problems of physical interest: (i) a simple two-field model which exemplifies applications to reheating in inflation, and (ii) a supersymmetric hybrid inflation model. This second case is interesting because inflation terminates via a smooth phase transition which gives rise to a spinodal instability in one of the fields. We study the evolution of the zero mode of the fields and the energy density transfer to the fluctuations from the mean fields. We conclude that back reaction effects can be significant over a wide parameter range. In particular for the supersymmetric hybrid model we find that particle production can be suppressed due to these effects.
© 2002 The American Physical Society
23 pages, 16 eps-figures, minor changes in the text, references added, accepted for publication in PRD