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Gaussian-state Ansatz for the non-equilibrium dynamics of quantum spin lattices

Raphaël Menu, Tommaso Roscilde

SciPost Phys. 14, 151 (2023) · published 12 June 2023


The study of non-equilibrium dynamics is one of the most important challenges of modern quantum many-body physics, in relationship with fundamental questions in quantum statistical mechanics, as well as with the fields of quantum simulation and computing. In this work we propose a Gaussian Ansatz for the study of the nonequilibrium dynamics of quantum spin systems. Within our approach, the quantum spins are mapped onto Holstein-Primakoff bosons, such that a coherent spin state - chosen as the initial state of the dynamics - represents the bosonic vacuum. The state of the system is then postulated to remain a bosonic Gaussian state at all times, an assumption which is exact when the bosonic Hamiltonian is quadratic; and which is justified in the case of a nonlinear Hamiltonian if the boson density remains moderate. We test the accuracy of such an Ansatz in the paradigmatic case of the $S=1/2$ transverse-field Ising model, in one and two dimensions, initialized in a state aligned with the applied field. We show that the Gaussian Ansatz, when applied to the bosonic Hamiltonian with nonlinearities truncated to quartic order, is able to reproduce faithfully the evolution of the state, including its relaxation to the equilibrium regime, for fields larger than the critical field for the paramagnetic-ferromagnetic transition in the ground state. In particular the spatio-temporal pattern of correlations reconstructed via the Gaussian Ansatz reveals the dispersion relation of quasiparticle excitations, exhibiting the softening of the excitation gap upon approaching the critical field. Our results suggest that the Gaussian Ansatz correctly captures the essential effects of nonlinearities in quantum spin dynamics; and that it can be applied to the study of fundamental phenomena such as quantum thermalization and its breakdown.

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Ising quantum chain Thermalization Transverse-field Ising chain Transverse-field Ising model

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