Quantum Thermalization and the Expansion of Atomic Clouds

I also presented this work in the form of a poster at the SPICE workshop ’Non-equilibrium Quantum Matter’, Mainz, Germany, from 30 May to 2 June 2017. The poster can be downloaded here (pdf, 1.3 MB).

Title: Quantum Thermalization and the Expansion of Atomic Clouds

Authors: Louk Rademaker, Jan Zaanen


Abstract: The ultimate consequence of quantum many-body physics is that even the air we breathe is governed by strictly unitary time evolution. The reason that we perceive it nonetheless as a completely classical high temperature gas is due to the incapacity of our measurement machines to keep track of the dense many-body entanglement of the gas molecules. The question thus arises whether there are instances where the quantum time evolution of a macroscopic system is qualitatively different from the equivalent classical system? Here we study this question through the expansion of noninteracting atomic clouds. While in many cases the full quantum dynamics is indeed indistinguishable from classical ballistic motion, we do find a notable exception. The subtle quantum correlations in a Bose gas approaching the condensation temperature appear to affect the expansion of the cloud, as if the system has turned into a diffusive collision-full classical system.



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