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Solid-state physics

Quantum matter without memory loss

München, 07/07/2016

Scientists at LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics (MPQ) obtain evidence of many-body localization in a closed quantum system.

The picture shows an artist’s view of the experiment, illustrating the persistence of the density step of an atomic distribution in an optical lattice. (MPQ)

During equilibration ordinary many-body systems lose all information about the initial state. Every morning we experience an example for this behaviour. Milk poured into a cup of coffee mixes perfectly and after some time it is impossible to say how exactly the two fluids were put together. The same behaviour holds for almost all quantum systems. However, recently a new phenomenon called “many-body localization” has been predicted theoretically, which allows well insulated quantum systems to preserve memory of the initial state forever. Now a team of scientists around Professor Immanuel Bloch, Chair of Quantum Optics at LMU Munich and Director at MPQ, and Dr. Christian Groß (MPQ), in cooperation with David Huse (Princeton University), has obtained evidence of such a behaviour in a two-dimensional quantum system of cold rubidium atoms trapped in an optical lattice (Science, 24 June 2016)

Press release of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics