Nonequilibrium dynamics of bosonic atoms in optical lattices: decoherence of many-body states due to spontaneous emission

H. Pichler, A.J. Daley, P. Zoller

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We analyze in detail the heating of bosonic atoms in an optical lattice due to incoherent scattering of light from the lasers forming the lattice. Because atoms scattered into higher bands do not thermalize on the time scale of typical experiments, this process cannot be described by the total energy increase in the system alone (which is determined by single-particle effects). The heating instead involves an important interplay between the atomic physics of the heating process and the many-body physics of the state. We characterize the effects on many-body states for various system parameters, where we observe important differences in the heating for strongly and weakly interacting regimes, as well as a strong dependence on the sign of the laser detuning from the excited atomic state. We compute heating rates and changes to characteristic correlation functions based on both perturbation-theory calculations and a time-dependent calculation of the dissipative many-body dynamics. The latter is made possible for one-dimensional systems by combining time-dependent density-matrix-renormalization-group methods with quantum trajectory techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalPhysical Review A
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2010


  • bosonic atoms
  • optical lattices
  • nonequilibrium dynamics
  • spontaneous emission
  • decoherence
  • many-body states

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