Recently, Markovic proved that there exists a maximal representation into (PSL(2,R))^3 such that the associated energy functional on Teichmuller space admits multiple critical points. In geometric terms, there is more than one minimal surface in the relevant homotopy class in the corresponding product of closed Riemann surfaces. This is related to an important question in Higher Teichmuller theory.
In this talk, we explain that this non-uniqueness arises from non-uniqueness of minimal surfaces in products of trees. We plan to discuss energy minimizing properties for minimal maps into trees, as well as the geometry of the surfaces found in Markovic’s work. This is work in progress, joint with Vladimir Markovic.