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Phys Rev Lett. 2008 Jan 25;100(3):030602. Epub 2008 Jan 24.

Exact relaxation in a class of nonequilibrium quantum lattice systems.

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Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College London, Prince Consort Road, London, United Kingdom.


A reasonable physical intuition in the study of interacting quantum systems says that, independent of the initial state, the system will tend to equilibrate. In this work we introduce an experimentally accessible setting where relaxation to a steady state is exact, namely, for the Bose-Hubbard model quenched from a Mott quantum phase to the free strong superfluid regime. We rigorously prove that the evolving state locally relaxes to a steady state with maximum entropy constrained by second moments--thus maximizing the entanglement. Remarkably, for this to be true, no time average is necessary. Our argument includes a central limit theorem and exploits the finite speed of information transfer. We also show that for all periodic initial configurations (charge density waves) the system relaxes locally, and identify experimentally accessible signatures in optical lattices as well as implications for the foundations of statistical mechanics.

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