Localization-protected quantum order

David A. Huse, Rahul Nandkishore, Vadim Oganesyan, Arijeet Pal, Shivaji Lal Sondhi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

349 Scopus citations


Closed quantum systems with quenched randomness exhibit many-body localized regimes wherein they do not equilibrate, even though prepared with macroscopic amounts of energy above their ground states. We show that such localized systems can order, in that individual many-body eigenstates can break symmetries or display topological order in the infinite-volume limit. Indeed, isolated localized quantum systems can order even at energy densities where the corresponding thermally equilibrated system is disordered, i.e., localization protects order. In addition, localized systems can move between ordered and disordered localized phases via nonthermodynamic transitions in the properties of the many-body eigenstates. We give evidence that such transitions may proceed via localized critical points. We note that localization provides protection against decoherence that may allow experimental manipulation of macroscopic quantum states. We also identify a "spectral transition" involving a sharp change in the spectral statistics of the many-body Hamiltonian.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number014206
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 22 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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