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Interaction-driven breakdown of dynamical localization in a kicked quantum gas

A Publisher Correction to this article was published on 04 October 2022

This article has been updated


Quantum interference can limit energy absorption in a continually kicked system through a single-particle ergodicity-breaking mechanism known as dynamical localization1,2. The effect of many-body interactions on dynamically localized states, although important to a fundamental understanding of quantum decoherence, has remained unexplored despite more than two decades of experimental studies3,4,5. Here we report the experimental realization of a kicked quantum rotor ensemble with tunable interactions using a Bose–Einstein condensate in a pulsed optical lattice. We observe a clear breakdown of dynamical localization due to interactions, but the resulting dynamics do not restore classical chaotic behaviour, instead displaying sublinear anomalous diffusion. Moreover, echo-type time-reversal experiments establish the role of interactions in destroying reversibility. These results quantitatively elucidate the dynamical transition to many-body quantum chaos and advance our understanding of quantum anomalous diffusion, with implications on the protection of quantum information in interacting driven systems.

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Fig. 1: Experimentally realizing an interacting QKR.
Fig. 2: Observing the interaction-induced emergence of quantum chaos.
Fig. 3: Effect of interactions on reversibility in echo experiments.

Data availability

All data needed to evaluate the conclusions in this study are presented in the Letter and the Supplementary Information.

Code availability

The codes used for data analysis and numerical simulation are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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We acknowledge helpful conversations with A. Rançon, N. Yao and T. Schuster. Funding: D.M.W. acknowledges support from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR FA9550-20-1-0240), the Army Research Office (ARO PECASE W911NF1410154) and the National Science Foundation (NSF CAREER 1555313 and QLCI OMA-2016245). D.M.W., R.S. and E.N.-M. acknowledge support from the UCSB NSF Quantum Foundry through the Q-AMASE-i program (grant no. DMR-1906325). V.G. was supported by US ARO contract no. W911NF1310172, NSF DMR-2037158 and the Simons Foundation.

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Authors and Affiliations



A.C., R.S., H.M., E.Q.S., J.L.T., E.N.-M., T.S. and H.E.K. contributed to operate the experiment and perform the measurements. A.C., R.S. and H.M. analysed the data. A.C. conceptualized and performed the theoretical simulations of the rotor and spin models. V.G. and D.M.W. developed the idea for the experiment. D.M.W. supervised the work. A.C., R.S., H.M., V.G. and D.M.W. wrote the manuscript. All the authors contributed to the discussion and interpretation of the results.

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Correspondence to David M. Weld.

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Nature Physics thanks Jakub Zakrzewski, Maarten Hoogerland and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Figs. 1–8 and Sections 1–7.

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Cao, A., Sajjad, R., Mas, H. et al. Interaction-driven breakdown of dynamical localization in a kicked quantum gas. Nat. Phys. 18, 1302–1306 (2022).

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