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Nature. 2002 Apr 11;416(6881):608-10.

Scaling of entanglement close to a quantum phase transition.

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Dipartimento di Metodologie Fisiche e Chimiche (DMFCI), viale A. Doria 6, 95125 Catania, Italy.


Classical phase transitions occur when a physical system reaches a state below a critical temperature characterized by macroscopic order. Quantum phase transitions occur at absolute zero; they are induced by the change of an external parameter or coupling constant, and are driven by quantum fluctuations. Examples include transitions in quantum Hall systems, localization in Si-MOSFETs (metal oxide silicon field-effect transistors; ref. 4) and the superconductor-insulator transition in two-dimensional systems. Both classical and quantum critical points are governed by a diverging correlation length, although quantum systems possess additional correlations that do not have a classical counterpart. This phenomenon, known as entanglement, is the resource that enables quantum computation and communication. The role of entanglement at a phase transition is not captured by statistical mechanics-a complete classification of the critical many-body state requires the introduction of concepts from quantum information theory. Here we connect the theory of critical phenomena with quantum information by exploring the entangling resources of a system close to its quantum critical point. We demonstrate, for a class of one-dimensional magnetic systems, that entanglement shows scaling behaviour in the vicinity of the transition point.

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