Thermalization is a ubiquitous process of statistical physics, in which details of few-body observables are washed out in favor of a featureless steady state. Even in isolated quantum many-body systems, limited to reversible dynamics, thermalization typically prevails. However, in these systems, there is another possibility: many-body localization (MBL) can result in preservation of a non-thermal state. While disorder has long been considered an essential ingredient for this phenomenon, recent theoretical work has suggested that a quantum many-body system with a uniformly increasing field -- but no disorder -- can also exhibit MBL, resulting in `Stark MBL.' Here we realize Stark MBL in a trapped-ion quantum simulator and demonstrate its key properties: halting of thermalization and slow propagation of correlations. Tailoring the interactions between ionic spins in an effective field gradient, we directly observe their microscopic equilibration for a variety of initial states, and we apply single-site control to measure correlations between separate regions of the spin chain. Further, by engineering a varying gradient, we create a disorder-free system with coexisting long-lived thermalized and nonthermal regions. The results demonstrate the unexpected generality of MBL, with implications about the fundamental requirements for thermalization and with potential uses in engineering long-lived non-equilibrium quantum matter.

1 aMorong, W.1 aLiu, F.1 aBecker, P.1 aCollins, K., S.1 aFeng, L.1 aKyprianidis, A.1 aPagano, G.1 aYou, T.1 aGorshkov, Alexey, V.1 aMonroe, C. uhttps://arxiv.org/abs/2102.0725001912nas a2200265 4500008004100000245007900041210006900120260001500189520117500204100001601379700001501395700001201410700001501422700002001437700001101457700001301468700001901481700002001500700001701520700001501537700001701552700002501569700001501594856003701609 2019 eng d00aObservation of Domain Wall Confinement and Dynamics in a Quantum Simulator0 aObservation of Domain Wall Confinement and Dynamics in a Quantum c12/23/20193 aConfinement is a ubiquitous mechanism in nature, whereby particles feel an attractive force that increases without bound as they separate. A prominent example is color confinement in particle physics, in which baryons and mesons are produced by quark confinement. Analogously, confinement can also occur in low-energy quantum many-body systems when elementary excitations are confined into bound quasiparticles. Here, we report the first observation of magnetic domain wall confinement in interacting spin chains with a trapped-ion quantum simulator. By measuring how correlations spread, we show that confinement can dramatically suppress information propagation and thermalization in such many-body systems. We are able to quantitatively determine the excitation energy of domain wall bound states from non-equilibrium quench dynamics. Furthermore, we study the number of domain wall excitations created for different quench parameters, in a regime that is difficult to model with classical computers. This work demonstrates the capability of quantum simulators for investigating exotic high-energy physics phenomena, such as quark collision and string breaking

1 aTan, W., L.1 aBecker, P.1 aLiu, F.1 aPagano, G.1 aCollins, K., S.1 aDe, A.1 aFeng, L.1 aKaplan, H., B.1 aKyprianidis, A.1 aLundgren, R.1 aMorong, W.1 aWhitsitt, S.1 aGorshkov, Alexey, V.1 aMonroe, C. uhttps://arxiv.org/abs/1912.11117