Large field inflation can be sensitive to perturbative and nonperturbative quantum corrections that spoil slow roll. A large number N of light species in the theory, which occur in many string constructions, can amplify these problems. One might even worry that in a de Sitter background, light species will lead to a violation of the covariant entropy bound at large N. If so, requiring the validity of the covariant entropy bound could limit the number of light species and their couplings, which in turn could severely constrain axion-driven inflation. Here we show that there is no such problem when we correctly renormalize models with many light species, taking the physical Planck scale to be Mpl2 NMUV2, where MUV is the cutoff for the quantum field theory coupled to semiclassical quantum gravity. The number of light species then cancels out of the gravitational entropy of de Sitter or near-de Sitter backgrounds at leading order. Working in detail with N scalar fields in de Sitter space, renormalized to one loop order, we show that the gravitational entropy automatically obeys the covariant entropy bound. Furthermore, while the axion decay constant is a strong coupling scale for the axion dynamics, we show that it is not in general the cutoff of 4d semiclassical gravity. After renormalizing the two point function of the inflaton, we note that it is also controlled by scales much below the cutoff. We revisit N-flation and Kachru-Kallosh-Linde-Trivedi-type compactifications in this light, and show that they are perfectly consistent with the covariant entropy bound. Thus, while quantum gravity might yet spoil large field inflation, holographic considerations in the semiclassical theory do not obstruct it.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)