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Rep Prog Phys. 2018 May;81(5):054001. doi: 10.1088/1361-6633/aaaf9a. Epub 2018 Feb 15.

Dynamical quantum phase transitions: a review.

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Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Nöthnitzer Str. 38, 01187 Dresden, Germany.


Quantum theory provides an extensive framework for the description of the equilibrium properties of quantum matter. Yet experiments in quantum simulators have now opened up a route towards the generation of quantum states beyond this equilibrium paradigm. While these states promise to show properties not constrained by equilibrium principles, such as the equal a priori probability of the microcanonical ensemble, identifying the general properties of nonequilibrium quantum dynamics remains a major challenge, especially in view of the lack of conventional concepts such as free energies. The theory of dynamical quantum phase transitions attempts to identify such general principles by lifting the concept of phase transitions to coherent quantum real-time evolution. This review provides a pedagogical introduction to this field. Starting from the general setting of nonequilibrium dynamics in closed quantum many-body systems, we give the definition of dynamical quantum phase transitions as phase transitions in time with physical quantities becoming nonanalytic at critical times. We summarize the achieved theoretical advances as well as the first experimental observations, and furthermore provide an outlook to major open questions as well as future directions of research.


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