Theory of the many-body localization transition in one-dimensional systems

Ronen Vosk, David A. Huse, Ehud Altman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

334 Scopus citations


We formulate a theory of the many-body localization transition based on a novel real-space renormalization group (RG) approach. The results of this theory are corroborated and intuitively explained with a phenomenological effective description of the critical point and of the "badly conducting" state found near the critical point on the delocalized side. The theory leads to the following sharp predictions: (i) The delocalized state established near the transition is a Griffiths phase, which exhibits subdiffusive transport of conserved quantities and sub-ballistic spreading of entanglement. The anomalous diffusion exponent α < 1/2 vanishes continuously at the critical point. The system does thermalize in this Griffiths phase. (ii) The many-body localization transition is controlled by a new kind of infinite-randomness RG fixed point, where the broadly distributed scaling variable is closely related to the eigenstate entanglement entropy. Dynamically, the entanglement grows as ~log t at the critical point, as it does in the localized phase. (iii) In the vicinity of the critical point, the ratio of the entanglement entropy to the thermal entropy and its variance (and, in fact, all moments) are scaling functions of L/ξ, where L is the length of the system and ξ is the correlation length, which has a power-law divergence at the critical point.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number031032
JournalPhysical Review X
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


  • Condensed matter physics
  • Quantum physics
  • Statistical physics


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