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Early-Time Exponential Instabilities in Nonchaotic Quantum Systems

TitleEarly-Time Exponential Instabilities in Nonchaotic Quantum Systems
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsE. B. Rozenbaume, L. A. Bunimovich, and V. Galitski
JournalPhys. Rev. Lett.
Date PublishedJUL 1
Type of ArticleArticle

The majority of classical dynamical systems are chaotic and exhibit the butterfly effect: a minute change in initial conditions has exponentially large effects later on. But this phenomenon is difficult to reconcile with quantum mechanics. One of the main goals in the field of quantum chaos is to establish a correspondence between the dynamics of classical chaotic systems and their quantum counterparts. In isolated systems in the absence of decoherence, there is such a correspondence in dynamics, but it usually persists only over a short time window, after which quantum interference washes out classical chaos. We demonstrate that quantum mechanics can also play the opposite role and generate exponential instabilities in classically nonchaotic systems within this early-time window. Our calculations employ the out-of-time-ordered correlator (OTOC)-a diagnostic that reduces to the Lyapunov exponent in the classical limit but is well defined for general quantum systems. We show that certain classically nonchaotic models, such as polygonal billiards, demonstrate a Lyapunov-like exponential growth of the OTOC at early times with Planck's-constant-dependent rates. This behavior is sharply contrasted with the slow early-time growth of the analog of the OTOC in the systems' classical counterparts. These results suggest that classical-to-quantum correspondence in dynamics is violated in the OTOC even before quantum interference develops.