Decoherence plays a major role in our current understanding of the conceptual foundations of quantum physics1. In many instances, decoherence is also a threat that must be countered (for instance, in quantum information processing or quantum technologies). While decoherence has been extensively studied for simple, well-isolated systems such as single atoms or ions2, much less is known for many-body systems where interparticle correlations and interactions can drastically alter the dissipative dynamics3,4,5,6. Here, we study experimentally the decoherence of a gas of strongly interacting bosons in an optical lattice exposed to near-resonant light and spontaneous emission. We observe an anomalous subdiffusion in momentum space, associated with a universal slowing down ∝1/t1/2 of the loss of spatial coherence. This algebraic decay reflects the emergence of slowly relaxing many-body states5, akin to the subradiant states of many excited emitters4. These results, supported by theoretical predictions, provide an important benchmark in the understanding of open many-body systems.
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We acknowledge fruitful discussions with A. Georges, C. Kollath and J.-S. Bernier. We thank M. Brune, J. Dalibard, R. Lopes, S. Nascimbène and D. Poletti for careful reading of the manuscript. Laboratoire Kastler Brossel is a member of the DIM SIRTEQ of Région Ile-de-France.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Bouganne, R., Bosch Aguilera, M., Ghermaoui, A. et al. Anomalous decay of coherence in a dissipative many-body system. Nat. Phys. 16, 21–25 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41567-019-0678-2
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