Equilibration to the non-Abelian thermal state in quantum many-body physics

TitleEquilibration to the non-Abelian thermal state in quantum many-body physics
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsHalpern, NYunger, Beverland, ME, Kalev, A
Date Published6/21/2019

In statistical mechanics, a small system exchanges conserved charges---heat, particles, electric charge, etc.---with a bath. The small system thermalizes to the canonical ensemble, or the grand canonical ensemble, etc., depending on the charges. The charges are usually represented by operators assumed to commute with each other. This assumption was removed within quantum-information-theoretic (QI-theoretic) thermodynamics recently. The small system's long-time state was dubbed "the non-Abelian thermal state (NATS)." We propose an experimental protocol for observing a system thermalize to the NATS. We illustrate with a chain of spins, a subset of which form the system of interest. The conserved charges manifest as spin components. Heisenberg interactions push the charges between the system and the effective bath, the rest of the chain. We predict long-time expectation values, extending the NATS theory from abstract idealization to finite systems that thermalize with finite couplings for finite times. Numerical simulations support the analytics: The system thermalizes to the NATS, rather than to the canonical prediction. Our proposal can be implemented with ultracold atoms, nitrogen-vacancy centers, trapped ions, quantum dots, and perhaps nuclear magnetic resonance. This work introduces noncommuting charges from QI-theoretic thermodynamics into quantum many-body physics: atomic, molecular, and optical physics and condensed matter.