Spectral and dynamical properties of disordered and noisy quantum spin models

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Rowlands, Daniel Alexander  ORCID logo  https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3110-2686

This thesis, divided into two parts, is concerned with the analysis of spectral and dynamical characteristics of certain quantum spin systems in the presence of either I) quenched disorder, or II) dynamical noise.

In the first part, the quantum random energy model (QREM), a mean-field spin glass model with a many-body localisation transition, is studied. In Chapter 2, we attempt a diagrammatic perturbative analysis of the QREM from the ergodic side, proceeding by analogy to the single-particle theory of weak localisation. Whilst we are able to describe diffusion, the analogy breaks down and a description of the onset of localisation in terms of quantum corrections quickly becomes intractable. Some progress is possible by deriving a quantum kinetic equation, namely the relaxation of the one-spin reduced density matrix is determined, but this affords little insight and extension to two-spin quantities is difficult. We change our approach in Chapter 3, studying instead a stroboscopic version of the model using the formalism of quantum graphs. Here, an analytic evaluation of the form factor in the diagonal approximation is possible, which we find to be consistent with the universal random matrix theory (RMT) result in the ergodic regime. In Chapter 4, we replace the QREM’s transverse field with a random kinetic term and present a diagrammatic calculation of the average density of states, exact in the large-N limit, and interpret the result in terms of the addition of freely independent random variables.

In the second part, we turn our attention to noisy quantum spins. Chapter 5 is concerned with noninteracting spins coupled to a common stochastic field; correlations arising from the common noise relax only due to the spins’ differing precession frequencies. Our key result is a mapping of the equation of motion of n-spin correlators onto the (integrable) non-Hermitian Richardson-Gaudin model, enabling exact calculation of the relaxation rate of correlations. The second problem, addressed in Chapter 6, is that of the dynamics of operator moments in a noisy Heisenberg model; qualitatively different behaviour is found depending on whether or not the noise conserves a component of spin. In the case of nonconserving noise, we report that the evolution of the second moment maps onto the Fredrickson-Andersen model – a kinetically constrained model originally introduced to describe the glass transition. This facilitates a rigorous study of operator spreading in a continuous-time model, providing a complementary viewpoint to recent investigations of random unitary circuits.

Lamacraft, Austen
condensed matter theory, many-body physics, quantum spin models, disorder, localisation, random matrix theory
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge