In this survey, we discuss some recent results on free boundary minimal surfaces in the Euclidean unit-ball. The subject has been a very active field of research in the past few years due to the seminal work of Fraser and Schoen on the extremal Steklov eigenvalue problem. We review several different techniques of constructing examples of embedded free boundary minimal surfaces in the unit ball. Next, we discuss some uniqueness results for free boundary minimal disks and the conjecture about the uniqueness of critical catenoid. We also discuss several Morse index estimates for free boundary minimal surfaces. Moreover, we describe estimates for the first Steklov eigenvalue on such free boundary minimal surfaces and various smooth compactness results. Finally, we mention some sharp area bounds for free boundary minimal submanifolds and related questions.
For any smooth Riemannian metric on an (n+1)-dimensional compact manifold with boundary (M,∂M) where 3≤(n+1)≤7, we establish general upper bounds for the Morse index of free boundary minimal hypersurfaces produced by min-max theory in the Almgren-Pitts setting. We apply our Morse index estimates to prove that for almost every (in the C-infinity Baire sense) Riemannan metric, the union of all compact, properly embedded free boundary minimal hypersurfaces is dense in M. If ∂M is further assumed to have a strictly mean convex point, we show the existence of infinitely many compact, properly embedded free boundary minimal hypersurfaces whose boundaries are non-empty. Our results prove a conjecture of Yau for generic metrics in the free boundary setting.
We establish a boundary maximum principle for free boundary minimal submanifolds in a Riemannian manifold with boundary, in any dimension and codimension. Our result holds more generally in the context of varifolds.
In this paper, we prove uniform curvature estimates for immersed stable free boundary minimal hypersurfaces satisfying a uniform area bound, which generalize the celebrated Schoen–Simon–Yau interior curvature estimates up to the free boundary. Our curvature estimates imply a smooth compactness theorem which is an essential ingredient in the min-max theory of free boundary minimal hypersurfaces developed by the last two authors. We also prove a monotonicity formula for free boundary minimal submanifolds in Riemannian manifolds for any dimension and codimension. For 3-manifolds with boundary, we prove a stronger curvature estimate for properly embedded stable free boundary minimal surfaces without a-priori area bound. This generalizes Schoen’s interior curvature estimates to the free boundary setting. Our proof uses the theory of minimal laminations developed by Colding and Minicozzi.
In this paper, we prove a general existence theorem for properly embedded minimal surfaces with free boundary in any compact Riemannian 3‐manifold M with boundary ∂M. These minimal surfaces are either disjoint from ∂M or meet ∂M orthogonally. The main feature of our result is that there is no assumptions on the curvature of M or convexity of ∂M. We prove the boundary regularity of the minimal surfaces at their free boundaries. Furthermore, we define a topological invariant, the filling genus, for compact 3‐manifolds with boundary and show that we can bound the genus of the minimal surface constructed above in terms of the filling genus of the ambient manifold M. Our proof employs a variant of the min‐max construction used by Colding and De Lellis on closed embedded minimal surfaces, which were first developed by Almgren and Pitts.