Ergodicity, Entanglement, and Many-Body Localization

Event Date: 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 - 4:00pm

Event Location: 

  • Broida 1640

Speaker:

Dmitry Abanin, University of Waterloo

 

Abstract:

We are used to describing systems of many particles by statistical mechanics. However, recently it was shown that the basic postulate of statistical mechanics – ergodicity -- breaks down in so-called many-body localized systems, where disorder prevents particle transport and thermalization. In this talk, I will describe a recent theory of the many-body localized (MBL) phase, based on new insights from quantum entanglement. I will argue that, in contrast to ergodic systems, MBL eigenstates are not highly entangled, but rather obey so-called area law, typical of ground states in gapped systems. I will use this fact to show that MBL phase is characterized by an infinite number of emergent local conservation laws, in terms of which the Hamiltonian acquires a universal form. Turning to the experimental implications, I will show that MBL systems exhibit a universal response to quantum quenches: surprisingly, entanglement shows logarithmic in time growth, reminiscent of glasses, while local observables exhibit power-law approach to “equilibrium” values. I will close by discussing experimental implications and other recent developments in exploring ergodicty and its breaking in quantum many-body systems.