In this article we study the dynamics of fermions in a fermion-scalar plasma. We begin by obtaining the effective in-medium Dirac equation in real time which is fully renormalized and causal and leads to the initial value problem. For a heavy scalar we find the novel result that the decay of the scalar into fermion pairs in the medium leads to damping of the fermionic excitations and their in-medium propagation as quasiparticles. That is, the fermions acquire a width due to the decay of the heavier scalar in the medium. We find the damping rate to lowest order in the Yukawa coupling for arbitrary values of scalar and fermion masses, temperature and fermion momentum. An all-order expression for the damping rate in terms of the exact quasiparticle wave functions is established. A kinetic Boltzmann approach to the relaxation of the fermionic distribution function confirms the damping of fermionic excitations as a consequence of the induced decay of heavy scalars in the medium. A linearization of the Boltzmann equation near equilibrium clearly displays the relationship between the damping rate of fermionic mean fields and the fermion interaction rate to lowest order in the Yukawa coupling directly in real time.
Physical Review D (Particles and Fields) 59(10), 105001 (13 pages)