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Decoherent quench dynamics across quantum phase transitions

Wei-Ting Kuo, Daniel Arovas, Smitha Vishveshwara, and Yi-Zhuang You

SciPost Phys. 11, 084 (2021) · published 28 October 2021


We present a formulation for investigating quench dynamics across quantum phase transitions in the presence of decoherence. We formulate decoherent dynamics induced by continuous quantum non-demolition measurements of the instantaneous Hamiltonian. We generalize the well-studied universal Kibble-Zurek behavior for linear temporal drive across the critical point. We identify a strong decoherence regime wherein the decoherence time is shorter than the standard correlation time, which varies as the inverse gap above the groundstate. In this regime, we find that the freeze-out time $\bar{t}\sim\tau^{{2\nu z}/({1+2\nu z})}$ for when the system falls out of equilibrium and the associated freeze-out length $\bar{\xi}\sim\tau^{\nu/({1+2\nu z})}$ show power-law scaling with respect to the quench rate $1/\tau$, where the exponents depend on the correlation length exponent $\nu$ and the dynamical exponent $z$ associated with the transition. The universal exponents differ from those of standard Kibble-Zurek scaling. We explicitly demonstrate this scaling behavior in the instance of a topological transition in a Chern insulator system. We show that the freeze-out time scale can be probed from the relaxation of the Hall conductivity. Furthermore, on introducing disorder to break translational invariance, we demonstrate how quenching results in regions of imbalanced excitation density characterized by an emergent length scale which also shows universal scaling. We perform numerical simulations to confirm our analytical predictions and corroborate the scaling arguments that we postulate as universal to a host of systems.

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