Irreversible dynamics in quantum many-body systems

Markus Schmitt and Markus Heyl,

Irreversibility, despite being a necessary condition for thermalization, still lacks a sound understanding in the context of isolated quantum many-body systems. In this work we approach this question by studying the behavior of generic many-body systems under imperfect effective time reversal, where the imperfection is introduced as a perturbation of the many-body state at the point of time reversal. Based on numerical simulations of the full quantum dynamics we demonstrate that observable echos occurring in this setting decay exponentially with a rate that is independent of the perturbation; hence, the sensitivity to perturbations is intrinsic to the system meaning that the dynamics is effectively irreversible.