Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Physics & Astronomy

First Advisor

Mirjam Cvetic


This thesis mainly focuses on novel stringy instanton effects in orientifold compactifications. Such effects are known to generate superpotential couplings which are perturbatively forbidden due to U(1) selection rules arising from the Green-Schwarz mechanism. We discuss their gauge transformation behavior and zero mode structure and give an outline of how to compute these non-perturbative effects. Here we focus for concreteness on type IIA compactifications, where the instantons are given by E2-instantons, wrapping a three-cycle in the internal manifold and are pointlike in the four-dimensional spacetime.

Later we embed E2-instantons in local setups and give various examples of instanton induced superpotential couplings which are otherwise forbidden. In all these configurations non-perturbative effects give a natural explanation for hierarchies which are only poorly understood from the field theoretical point of view. Furthermore, we explicitly compute the instanton induced mass term of Majorana masses for right-handed neutrinos by using conformal field theory techniques.

Finally we investigate under what circumstances instantons provide the correct zero mode structure to induce superpotential corrections. We analyze two different strategies to lift additional undesired instanton zero modes. First we discuss the process of instanton recombination, and show that generically one needs additional instantons to generate superpotential couplings. With these multi-instantons we show that the class of superpotential contributing BPS instantons is much richer than mostly considered. Later we study the lifting of undesired zero modes in the type IIB framework with supersymmetric background flux. We show that indeed in certain situations the background fluxes lift the zero modes and the instanton gives rise to superpotential contributions.