Thouless energy and multifractality across the many-body localization transition

Maksym Serbyn, Z. Papić, Dmitry A. Abanin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Thermal and many-body localized phases are separated by a dynamical phase transition of a new kind. We analyze the distribution of off-diagonal matrix elements of local operators across this transition in two different models of disordered spin chains. We show that the behavior of matrix elements can be used to characterize the breakdown of thermalization and to extract the many-body Thouless energy. We find that upon increasing the disorder strength the system enters a critical region around the many-body localization transition. The properties of the system in this region are: (i) the Thouless energy becomes smaller than the level spacing, (ii) the matrix elements show critical dependence on the energy difference, and (iii) the matrix elements, viewed as amplitudes of a fictitious wave function, exhibit strong multifractality. This critical region decreases with the system size, which we interpret as evidence for a diverging correlation length at the many-body localization transition. Our findings show that the correlation length becomes larger than the accessible system sizes in a broad range of disorder strength values and shed light on the critical behavior near the many-body localization transition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104201
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 6 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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