A Caltech Library Service

Dynamics and Simulation of Open Quantum Systems


Zwolak, Michael Philip (2008) Dynamics and Simulation of Open Quantum Systems. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/565E-JR05.


All systems are open to an essentially uncontrollable environment that acts as a source of decoherence and dissipation. In some cases the environment's only effect is to add a weak relaxation mechanism and thus can be ignored for short timescales. In others, however, the presence of the environment can fundamentally alter the behavior of the system. Such is the case in mesoscopic superconductors where the environment can stabilize superconductivity and in spin-boson systems where the environment induces a localization transition. Likewise, in technological applications we are often interested in systems operating far from equilibrium. Here the environment might act as a particle reservoir or strong driving force.

In all these examples, we need accurate methods to describe the influence of the environment on the system and to solve for the resulting dynamics or equilibrium states. In this thesis, we develop computational and conceptual approaches to efficiently simulate quantum systems in contact with an environment. Our starting point is the use of numerical renormalization techniques. Thus, we restrict our attention to one-dimensional lattices or small quantum systems coupled to an environment. We have developed several complementary algorithms: a superoperator renormalization algorithm for simulating real-time Markovian dynamics and for calculating states in thermal equilibrium; a blocking algorithm for simulating integro-differential equations with long-time memory; and a tensor network algorithm for branched lattices, which can be used to simulate strongly dissipative systems. Further, we provide support for an idea that to generically and accurately simulate the real-time dynamics of strongly dissipative systems, one has to include all or part of the environment within the simulation. In addition, we discuss applications and open questions.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:decoherence; dissipation; simulation
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Preskill, John P.
Thesis Committee:
  • Preskill, John P. (chair)
  • Kitaev, Alexei
  • Refael, Gil
  • Mabuchi, Hideo
Defense Date:12 June 2007
Non-Caltech Author Email:michael.zwolak (AT)
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-08072007-221313
Persistent URL:
Zwolak, Michael Philip0000-0001-6443-7816
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:3040
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:31 Aug 2007
Last Modified:03 Dec 2019 22:30

Thesis Files

PDF (thesis) - Final Version
See Usage Policy.


Repository Staff Only: item control page