Spectral gaps, critical exponents and representations of negatively curved groups
In this paper we introduce a notion of Poincar\'e exponent for isometric representations of discrete groups on Hilbert spaces. Similarly as growth exponents control the geometry this exponent is shown to control the size of spectral gaps. Following similar ideas as Patterson and Sullivan it is used in the case of negatively curved groups to construct weakly contained boundary representations reflecting the spectral properties of the original representation analogously as complementary series representations in the case of semi-simple Lie groups. This is exploited to deduced sharp estimates on spectral invariants. A quantitive property (T) \'a la Cowling is also established proving uniform bound on the mixing rate of representations of hyperbolic groups with property (T). Along the way some properties of boundary representations are discussed. A original characterisation of the positivity of the so-called Knapp-Stein operators and certain fusion rules on the boundary complementary series representations are established.