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.