Four-dimensional symplectic cobordisms containing three-handles

Research paper by David T Gay

Indexed on: 02 Mar '09Published on: 02 Mar '09Published in: Mathematics - Geometric Topology


We construct four-dimensional symplectic cobordisms between contact three-manifolds generalizing an example of Eliashberg. One key feature is that any handlebody decomposition of one of these cobordisms must involve three-handles. The other key feature is that these cobordisms contain chains of symplectically embedded two-spheres of square zero. This, together with standard gauge theory, is used to show that any contact three-manifold of non-zero torsion (in the sense of Giroux) cannot be strongly symplectically fillable. John Etnyre pointed out to the author that the same argument together with compactness results for pseudo-holomorphic curves implies that any contact three-manifold of non-zero torsion satisfies the Weinstein conjecture. We also get examples of weakly symplectically fillable contact three-manifolds which are (strongly) symplectically cobordant to overtwisted contact three-manifolds, shedding new light on the structure of the set of contact three-manifolds equipped with the strong symplectic cobordism partial order.