The confinement-deconfinement phase transition is explored by lattice numerical simulations in non-compact (2+1)-dimensional quantum electrodynamics with massive fermions at finite temperature. The existence of two phases, one with and the other without confinement of fractional charges, is related to the realization of the Z symmetry. The order parameter of this transition can be clearly identified. We show that it is possible to detect the critical temperature for a given value of the fermion mass, by exploiting suitable lattice operators as probes of the Z symmetry. Moreover, the large-distance behavior of the correlation of these operators permits to distinguish the phase with Coulombconfinement from the Debye-screened phase. The resulting scenario is compatible with the existence of a Berezinsky-Kosterlitz-Thouless transition. Some investigations are presented on the possible relation between chiral and deconfinement transitions and on the role of “monopoles”
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