Constructing local integrals of motion in the many-body localized phase

Anushya Chandran, Isaac H. Kim, Guifre Vidal, Dmitry A. Abanin

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225 Scopus citations


Many-body localization provides a generic mechanism of ergodicity breaking in quantum systems. In contrast to conventional ergodic systems, many-body-localized (MBL) systems are characterized by extensively many local integrals of motion (LIOM), which underlie the absence of transport and thermalization in these systems. Here we report a physically motivated construction of local integrals of motion in the MBL phase. We show that any local operator (e.g., a local particle number or a spin-flip operator), evolved with the system's Hamiltonian and averaged over time, becomes a LIOM in the MBL phase. Such operators have a clear physical meaning, describing the response of the MBL system to a local perturbation. In particular, when a local operator represents a density of some globally conserved quantity, the corresponding LIOM describes how this conserved quantity propagates through the MBL phase. Being uniquely defined and experimentally measurable, these LIOMs provide a natural tool for characterizing the properties of the MBL phase, in both experiments and numerical simulations. We demonstrate the latter by numerically constructing an extensive set of LIOMs in the MBL phase of a disordered spin-chain model. We show that the resulting LIOMs are quasilocal and use their decay to extract the localization length and establish the location of the transition between the MBL and ergodic phases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number085425
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 24 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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