Prethermalization without Temperature

David J. Luitz, Roderich Moessner, S. L. Sondhi, Vedika Khemani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


While a clean, driven system generically absorbs energy until it reaches "infinite temperature,"it may do so very slowly exhibiting what is known as a prethermal regime. Here, we show that the emergence of an additional approximately conserved quantity in a periodically driven (Floquet) system can give rise to an analogous long-lived regime. This can allow for nontrivial dynamics, even from initial states that are at a high or infinite temperature with respect to an effective Hamiltonian governing the prethermal dynamics. We present concrete settings with such a prethermal regime, one with a period-doubled (time-crystalline) response. We also present a direct diagnostic to distinguish this prethermal phenomenon from its infinitely long-lived many-body localized cousin. We apply these insights to a model of the recent NMR experiments by Rovny et al. [Phys. Rev. Lett. 120, 180603 (2018)PRLTAO0031-900710.1103/PhysRevLett.120.180603] which, intriguingly, detected signatures of a Floquet time crystal in a clean three-dimensional material. We show that a mild but subtle variation of their driving protocol can increase the lifetime of the time-crystalline signal by orders of magnitude.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number021046
JournalPhysical Review X
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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