Efficient method to generate time evolution of the Wigner function for open quantum systems

Renan Cabrera, Denys I. Bondar, Kurt Jacobs, Herschel A. Rabitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The Wigner function is a useful tool for exploring the transition between quantum and classical dynamics, as well as the behavior of quantum chaotic systems. Evolving the Wigner function for open systems has proved challenging, however; a variety of methods have been devised but suffer from being cumbersome and resource intensive. Here we present an efficient fast-Fourier method for evolving the Wigner function that has a complexity of O(NlogN) where N is the size of the array storing the Wigner function. The efficiency, stability, and simplicity of this method allows us to simulate open-system dynamics previously thought to be prohibitively expensive. As a demonstration we simulate the dynamics of both one-particle and two-particle systems under various environmental interactions. For a single particle we also compare the resulting evolution with that of the classical Fokker-Planck and Koopman-von Neumann equations and show that the environmental interactions induce the quantum-to-classical transition as expected. In the case of two interacting particles we show that an environment interacting with one of the particles leads to the loss of coherence of the other.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number042122
JournalPhysical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 28 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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