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Sci Rep. 2012;2:243. doi: 10.1038/srep00243. Epub 2012 Feb 6.

Localization and glassy dynamics of many-body quantum systems.

Abstract

When classical systems fail to explore their entire configurational space, intriguing macroscopic phenomena like aging and glass formation may emerge. Also closed quanto-mechanical systems may stop wandering freely around the whole Hilbert space, even if they are initially prepared into a macroscopically large combination of eigenstates. Here, we report numerical evidences that the dynamics of strongly interacting lattice bosons driven sufficiently far from equilibrium can be trapped into extremely long-lived inhomogeneous metastable states. The slowing down of incoherent density excitations above a threshold energy, much reminiscent of a dynamical arrest on the verge of a glass transition, is identified as the key feature of this phenomenon. We argue that the resulting long-lived inhomogeneities are responsible for the lack of thermalization observed in large systems. Such a rich phenomenology could be experimentally uncovered upon probing the out-of-equilibrium dynamics of conveniently prepared quantum states of trapped cold atoms which we hereby suggest.

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