Non-equilibrium critical scaling and universality in a quantum simulator

TitleNon-equilibrium critical scaling and universality in a quantum simulator
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsDe, A, Cook, P, Collins, K, Morong, W, Paz, D, Titum, P, Pagano, G, Gorshkov, AV, Maghrebi, M, Monroe, C
Date Published9/19/2023

Universality and scaling laws are hallmarks of equilibrium phase transitions and critical phenomena. However, extending these concepts to non-equilibrium systems is an outstanding challenge. Despite recent progress in the study of dynamical phases, the universality classes and scaling laws for non-equilibrium phenomena are far less understood than those in equilibrium. In this work, using a trapped-ion quantum simulator with single-ion resolution, we investigate the non-equilibrium nature of critical fluctuations following a quantum quench to the critical point. We probe the scaling of spin fluctuations after a series of quenches to the critical Hamiltonian of a long-range Ising model. With systems of up to 50 spins, we show that the amplitude and timescale of the post-quench fluctuations scale with system size with distinct universal critical exponents. While a generic quench can lead to thermal critical behaviour, we find that a second quench from one critical state to another (i.e. a double quench) results in critical behaviour that does not have an equilibrium counterpart. Our results demonstrate the ability of quantum simulators to explore universal scaling beyond the equilibrium paradigm.