A stochastic approach to open quantum systems

Journal Of Physics-Condensed Matter 24, 273201 (2012)

A stochastic approach to open quantum systems

Robert Biele, Roberto D'Agosta

Stochastic methods are ubiquitous to a variety of fields, ranging from Physics to Economy and Mathematics. In many cases, in the investigation of natural processes, stochasticity arises every time one considers the dynamics of a system in contact with a somehow bigger system, an environment, that is considered in thermal equilibrium. Any small fluctuation of the environment has some random effect on the system. In Physics, stochastic methods have been applied to the investigation of phase transitions, thermal and electrical noise, thermal relaxation, quantum information, Brownian motion etc. In this review, we will focus on the so-called stochastic Schr ̈odinger equation. This is useful as a starting point to investigate the dynamics of open quantum systems capable of exchanging energy and momentum with an external environment. We discuss in some details the general derivation of a stochastic Schr ̈odinger equation and discuss some recent applications to spin thermal transport, thermal relaxation, and Bose-Einstein condensation. We thoroughly discuss the advantages of this formalism with respect to the more common approach in terms of the density matrix. The applications discussed here constitute only a few examples of a much wider range of applicability.

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