In our research we are interested in a variety of different quantum many-body problems at the interface between condensed matter theory, quantum simulation, and quantum information.
This includes, in particular, the prospect for identifying emergent phenomena and universality in the dynamics of complex quantum systems with a strong focus onto current experiments in quantum simulators.
In this context we work on a theory of dynamical quantum phase transitions which is an attempt to extend fundamental equilibrium concepts such as universality and scaling to the dynamical far-from equilibrium regime. Moreover, our research includes topics such as many-body localization in interacting strongly disordered systems, energy localization in periodically driven systems, as well as the interface between quantum many-body theory and quantum information science.
Below you can find a selection of recent research conducted in this group.
This experiment has been selected as one of the top ten breakthroughs in physics in the year 2016 by the magazine Physics World.
Gauge theories are fundamental to our understanding of interactions between the elementary constituents of matter as mediated by gauge bosons. However, computing the real-time dynamics in gauge theories is a notorious challenge for classical computational methods. In the spirit of Feynman's vision of a quantum simulator, this has recently stimulated theoretical effort to devise schemes for simulating such theories on engineered quantum-mechanical devices, with the difficulty that gauge invariance and the associated local conservation laws (Gauss laws) need to be implemented. Here we report the first experimental demonstration of a digital quantum simulation of a lattice gauge theory, by realising 1+1-dimensional quantum electrodynamics (Schwinger model) on a few-qubit trapped-ion quantum computer.
Quantum theory provides an extensive framework for the description of the equilibrium properties of quantum matter. Yet experiments in quantum simulators have now opened up a route towards generating quantum states beyond this equilibrium paradigm. While these states promise to show properties not constrained by equilibrium principles such as the equal a priori probability of the microcanonical ensemble, identifying general properties of nonequilibrium quantum dynamics remains a major challenge especially in view of the lack of conventional concepts such as free energies. The theory of dynamical quantum phase transitions attempts to identify such general principles by lifting the concept of phase transitions to coherent quantum real-time evolution. This review provides a pedagogical introduction to this field. Starting from the general setting of nonequilibrium dynamics in closed quantum many-body systems, we give the definition of dynamical quantum phase transitions as phase transitions in time with physical quantities becoming nonanalytic at critical times. We summarize the achieved theoretical advances as well as the first experimental observations, and furthermore provide an outlook onto major open questions as well as future directions of research.
Topological phases constitute an exotic form of matter characterized by non-local properties rather than local order parameters. The paradigmatic Haldane model on a hexagonal lattice features such topological phases distinguished by an integer topological invariant known as the first Chern number. Recently, the identification of non-equilibrium signatures of topology in the dynamics of such systems has attracted particular attention. Here, we experimentally study the dynamical evolution of the wavefunction using time- and momentum-resolved full state tomography for spin-polarized fermionic atoms in driven optical lattices. We observe the appearance, movement and annihilation of dynamical vortices in momentum space after sudden quenches close to the topological phase transition. These dynamical vortices can be interpreted as dynamical Fisher zeros of the Loschmidt amplitude, which signal a so-called dynamical phase transition. Our results pave the way to a deeper understanding of the connection between topological phases and non-equilibrium dynamics.
Today, the equilibrium properties of quantum matter are theoretically described with remarkable success. Yet, in recentyears pioneering experiments have created novel quantum states beyond this equilibrium paradigm. Thanks to this progress, it is now possible to experimentally study exotic phenomena such as many-body localization, prethermalization, particle-antiparticle production in the lattice Schwinger model, and light-induced superconductivity. Understanding general properties of such nonequilibrium quantum states provides a significant challenge, calling for new concepts that extend important principles such as universality to the non-equilibrium realm. A general approach towards this major goal is the theory of dynamical quantum phase transitions (DQPTs), which extends the concept of phase transitions and thus universality to the nonequilibrium regime. In this letter, we directly observe the defining real-time non-analyticities at DQPTs in a trapped-ion quantum simulator for interacting transverse-field Ising models.
We show how lattice gauge theories can display many-body localization dynamics in the absence of disorder. Our starting point is the observation that, for some generic translationally invariant states, Gauss law effectively induces a dynamics which can be described as a disorder average over gauge super-selection sectors. We carry out extensive exact simulations on the real-time dynamics of a lattice Schwinger model, describing the coupling between U(1) gauge fields and staggered fermions. Our results show how memory effects and slow entanglement growth are present in a broad regime of parameters - in particular, for sufficiently large interactions. These findings are immediately relevant to cold atoms and trapped ions experiments realizing dynamical gauge fields, and suggest a new and universal link between confinement and entanglement dynamics in the many-body localized phase of lattice models.
The efficient representation of quantum many-body states with classical resources is a key challenge in quantum many-body theory. In this work we analytically construct classical networks for the description of the quantum dynamics in transverse-field Ising models that can be solved efficiently using Monte-Carlo techniques. Our perturbative construction encodes time-evolved quantum states of spin-1/2 systems in a network of classical spins with local couplings and can be directly generalized to other spin systems and higher spins. Using this construction we compute the transient dynamics in one, two, and three dimensions including local observables, entanglement production, and Loschmidt amplitudes using Monte-Carlo algorithms and demonstrate the accuracy of this approach by comparisons to exact results. We include a mapping to equivalent artificial neural networks.