In our research we are interested in the dynamics of correlated quantum matter at the interface between quantum many-body theory, nonequilibrium physics, quantum information science, and machine learning.
The research covers the development of a theory of dynamical quantum phase transitions, extending the concept of phase transitions to the time domain, the dynamics in lattice gauge theories, the exploration of machine learning techniques as a new toolbox in quantum many-body theory, many-body localization in interacting strongly disordered systems, or entanglement in correlated quantum matter.
Below you can find a selection of recent research conducted in this group.
Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. A particularly promising application is the solution of quantum many-body problems utilizing the concept of digital quantum simulation. A fundamental challenge, however, is the control of an intrinsic error source, which appears due to the utilized time discretization. Here, we show that quantum localization-by constraining the time evolution through quantum interference-strongly bounds these errors for local observables. Digital quantum simulation is thus intrinsically much more robust than expected from known global error bounds.
String breaking is a central dynamical process in theories featuring confinement, where a string connecting two charges decays at the expense of the creation of new particle-antiparticle pairs. Here, we show that this process can also be observed in quantum Ising chains where domain walls get confined either by a symmetry-breaking field or by long-range interactions. We find that string breaking occurs, in general, as a two-stage process: First, the initial charges remain essentially static and stable. The connecting string, however, can become a dynamical object. We develop an effective description of this motion, which we find is strongly constrained. In the second stage, which can be severely delayed due to these dynamical constraints, the string finally breaks. We observe that the associated time scale can depend crucially on the initial separation between domain walls and can grow by orders of magnitude by changing the distance by just a few lattice sites. We discuss how our results generalize to one-dimensional confining gauge theories and how they can be made accessible in quantum simulator experiments such as Rydberg atoms or trapped ions.
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.
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.
Physics World: one of the top-ten breakthroughs 2016
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.
The efficient numerical simulation of nonequilibrium real-time evolution in isolated quantum matter constitutes a key challenge for current computational methods. This holds in particular in the regime of two spatial dimensions, whose experimental exploration is currently pursued with strong efforts in quantum simulators. In this work we present a versatile and efficient machine learning inspired approach based on a recently introduced artificial neural network encoding of quantum many-body wave functions. We identify and resolve some key challenges for the simulation of time evolution, which previously imposed significant limitations on the accurate description of large systems and long-time dynamics. As a concrete example, we study the dynamics of the paradigmatic two-dimensional transverse field Ising model, as recently also realized experimentally in systems of Rydberg atoms. Calculating the nonequilibrium real-time evolution across a broad range of parameters, we, for instance, observe collapse and revival oscillations of ferromagnetic order and demonstrate that the reached time scales are comparable to or exceed the capabilities of state-of-the-art tensor network methods.