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J Chem Phys. 2010 Dec 28;133(24):241101. doi: 10.1063/1.3507870.

Communication: Decoherence in a nonequilibrium environment: an analytically solvable model.

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  • 1University of California, Irvine, California 92697-2025, USA.


We describe an analytically solvable model of quantum decoherence in a nonequilibrium environment. The model considers the effect of a bath driven from equilibrium by, for example, an ultrafast excitation of a quantum chromophore. The nonequilibrium response of the environment is represented by a nonstationary random function corresponding to the fluctuating transition frequency between two quantum states coupled to the surroundings. The nonstationary random function is characterized by a Fourier series with the phase of each term starting initially with a definite value across the ensemble but undergoing random diffusion with time. The decay of the off-diagonal density matrix element is shown to depend significantly on the particular pattern of initial phases of the terms in the Fourier series, or equivalently, the initial phases of bath modes coupled to the quantum subsystem. This suggests the possibility of control of quantum decoherence by the detailed properties of an environment that is driven from thermal equilibrium.

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