Here we will address the simple question: can one approach the natural lower energy bound by critical points along fixed surfaces of higher genus? In fact we prove more subtle quantitative estimates for any (almost-)critical point whose energy is close to 4π/3. Standard theory tells us that a sequence of (almost-)critical points on a fixed torus T, whose energy approaches 4π/3, must bubble-converge to a sphere: there is a shrinking disc on the torus that gets mapped to a larger and larger region of the round sphere, and away from the disc our maps converge to a constant. Thus the limiting object is really a map from a sphere to R^3, and the challenge is to compare maps from a torus with the limiting map (i.e. a change of topology in the limit). In particular we can prove a gap theorem for the lowest energy level on a fixed surface and estimate the rates at which bubbling maps u are becoming spherical in terms of the size of dE[u] – these are commonly referred to as Łojasiewicz-type estimates.
This is a joint work with Andrea Malchiodi (SNS Pisa) and Melanie Rupflin (Oxford).