Nonthermal statistics in isolated quantum spin clusters after a series of perturbations

Kai Ji, Boris V. Fine

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26 Citations (Scopus)


We show numerically that a finite isolated cluster of interacting spins 1/2 exhibits a surprising nonthermal statistics when subjected to a series of small nonadiabatic perturbations by an external magnetic field. The resulting occupations of energy eigenstates are significantly higher than the thermal ones on both the low and the high ends of the energy spectra. This behavior semiquantitatively agrees with the statistics predicted for the so-called "quantum microcanonical" ensemble, which includes all possible quantum superpositions with a given energy expectation value. Our findings also indicate that the eigenstates of the perturbation operators are generically localized in the energy basis of the unperturbed Hamiltonian. This kind of localization possibly protects the thermal behavior in the macroscopic limit.

Original languageEnglish
Article number050401
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


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