We explore the response of many-body localized (MBL) systems to periodic driving of arbitrary amplitude, focusing on the rate at which they exchange energy with the drive. To this end, we introduce an infinite-temperature generalization of the effective "heating rate" in terms of the spread of a random walk in energy space. We compute this heating rate numerically and estimate it analytically in various regimes. When the drive amplitude is much smaller than the frequency, this effective heating rate is given by linear response theory with a coefficient that is proportional to the optical conductivity; in the opposite limit, the response is nonlinear and the heating rate is a nontrivial power law of time. We discuss the mechanisms underlying this crossover in the MBL phase. We comment on implications for the subdiffusive thermal phase near the MBL transition, and for response in imperfectly isolated MBL systems.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics