Many-body localization in a quantum simulator with programmable random disorder

J. Smith, A. Lee, P. Richerme, B. Neyenhuis, P. W. Hess, P. Hauke, M. Heyl, D. A. Huse, C. Monroe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

675 Scopus citations


When a system thermalizes it loses all memory of its initial conditions. Even within a closed quantum system, subsystems usually thermalize using the rest of the system as a heat bath. Exceptions to quantum thermalization have been observed, but typically require inherent symmetries or noninteracting particles in the presence of static disorder. However, for strong interactions and high excitation energy there are cases, known as many-body localization (MBL), where disordered quantum systems can fail to thermalize. We experimentally generate MBL states by applying an Ising Hamiltonian with long-range interactions and programmable random disorder to ten spins initialized far from equilibrium. Using experimental and numerical methods we observe the essential signatures of MBL: initial-state memory retention, Poissonian distributed energy level spacings, and evidence of long-time entanglement growth. Our platform can be scaled to more spins, where a detailed modelling of MBL becomes impossible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)907-911
Number of pages5
JournalNature Physics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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