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.
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.
Entanglement is considered an essential resource in quantum technologies, and central to the understanding of quantum many-body physics. Developing protocols to detect and quantify the entanglement of many-particle quantum states is thus a key challenge for present experiments. Here, we show that the quantum Fisher information, a witness for genuinely multipartite entanglement, becomes measurable for thermal ensembles by means of the dynamic susceptibility—that is, with resources readily available in present cold atomic-gas and condensed-matter experiments. This establishes a connection between multipartite entanglement and many-body correlations contained in response functions, with immediate implications close to quantum phase transitions, where the quantum Fisher information becomes universal, allowing us to identify strongly entangled phase transitions with a divergent multipartite entanglement. We illustrate our framework using paradigmatic quantum Ising models, and point out potential signatures in optical-lattice experiments and strongly correlated materials.
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.
Dynamical quantum phase transitions (DQPTs) at critical times appear as nonanalyticities during nonequilibrium quantum real-time evolution. Although there is evidence for a close relationship between DQPTs and equilibrium phase transitions, a major challenge is still to connect to fundamental concepts such as scaling and universality. In this work, renormalization group transformations in complex parameter space are formulated for quantum quenches in Ising models showing that the DQPTs are critical points associated with unstable fixed points of equilibrium Ising models. Therefore, these DQPTs obey scaling and universality. On the basis of numerical simulations, signatures of these DQPTs in the dynamical buildup of spin correlations are found with an associated power-law scaling determined solely by the fixed point’s universality class. An outlook is given on how to explore this dynamical scaling experimentally in systems of trapped ions.
Phase transitions are a fundamental concept in science describing diverse phenomena ranging from, e.g., the freezing of water to Bose-Einstein condensation. While the concept is well-established in equilibrium, similarly fundamental concepts for systems far from equilibrium are just being explored, such as the recently introduced dynamical phase transition (DPT). Here we report on the first observation of a DPT in the dynamics of a fermionic many-body state after a quench between two lattice Hamiltonians. With time-resolved state tomography in a system of ultracold atoms in optical lattices, we obtain full access to the evolution of the wave function. We observe the appearance, movement, and annihilation of vortices in reciprocal space. We identify their number as a dynamical topological order parameter, which suddenly changes its value at the critical times of the DPT. Our observation of a DPT is an important step towards a more comprehensive understanding of non-equilibrium dynamics in general.