The assumption that quantum systems relax to a stationary state in the long-time limit underpins statistical physics and much of our intuitive understanding of scientific phenomena. For isolated systems this follows from the eigenstate thermalization hypothesis. When an environment is present the expectation is that all of phase space is explored, eventually leading to stationarity. Notable exceptions are decoherence-free subspaces that have important implications for quantum technologies and have so far only been studied for systems with a few degrees of freedom. Here we identify simple and generic conditions for dissipation to prevent a quantum many-body system from ever reaching a stationary state. We go beyond dissipative quantum state engineering approaches towards controllable long-time non-stationarity typically associated with macroscopic complex systems. This coherent and oscillatory evolution constitutes a dissipative version of a quantum time crystal. We discuss the possibility of engineering such complex dynamics with fermionic ultracold atoms in optical lattices.
- Pub Date:
- April 2019
- Quantum Physics;
- Condensed Matter - Quantum Gases;
- Condensed Matter - Statistical Mechanics;
- Condensed Matter - Strongly Correlated Electrons
- Main text in MS Word (10 pages, 4 figures) and Supplementary material in TeX (10 pages, 2 figures). Main text PDF embedded in TeX. Version as accepted by Nature Communications