From Non-Markovian Dissipation to Spatiotemporal Control of Quantum Nanodevices

Thibaut Lacroix1,2,3, Brendon W. Lovett2, and Alex W. Chin3

1Institut für Theoretische Physik und IQST, Albert-Einstein-Allee 11, Universität Ulm, D-89081 Ulm, Germany
2SUPA, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of St Andrews, St Andrews KY16 9SS, UK
3Sorbonne Université, CNRS, Institut des NanoSciences de Paris, 4 place Jussieu, 75005 Paris, France

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Nanodevices exploiting quantum effects are critically important elements of future quantum technologies (QT), but their real-world performance is strongly limited by decoherence arising from local `environmental' interactions. Compounding this, as devices become more complex, i.e. contain multiple functional units, the `local' environments begin to overlap, creating the possibility of environmentally mediated decoherence phenomena on new time-and-length scales. Such complex and inherently non-Markovian dynamics could present a challenge for scaling up QT, but – on the other hand – the ability of environments to transfer `signals' and energy might also enable sophisticated spatiotemporal coordination of inter-component processes, as is suggested to happen in biological nanomachines, like enzymes and photosynthetic proteins. Exploiting numerically exact many body methods (tensor networks) we study a fully quantum model that allows us to explore how propagating environmental dynamics can instigate and direct the evolution of spatially remote, non-interacting quantum systems. We demonstrate how energy dissipated into the environment can be remotely harvested to create transient excited/reactive states, and also identify how reorganisation triggered by system excitation can qualitatively and reversibly alter the `downstream' kinetics of a `functional' quantum system. With access to complete system-environment wave functions, we elucidate the microscopic processes underlying these phenomena, providing new insight into how they could be exploited for energy efficient quantum devices.

The main limitation of future quantum technologies is the decoherence resulting from the interaction of the different working units of quantum devices with external uncontrollable environments (e.g. the electromagnetic field, lattice vibrations…). Usually different units are described as interacting with different environments that do not interact with one another, and these environments are responsible for local dissipation and decoherence.
However the more complex quantum devices will become, the closer their different components will be. In that context, the assumption of distinct local environments breaks done and we need to consider the interaction of functional units with a common environment. In that case, the energy dissipated by one part of the system could, for instance, be absorbed later by another part. This makes the description of such global environments fundamentally more complex than local ones because their inner dynamics cannot be neglect if one wants to understand the dynamics of the system.
Using tensor networks methods to represent and time-evolve the quantum state of the system and environment together, we are able to uncover processes that are happening on new time-and-length scales because of the propagation of energy/information inside of the environment.
The new phenomenology of physical processes, resulting from considering quantum systems interacting with a common environment, has important consequences for the design of nanodevices as it gives access to new control, sensing and cross-talk mechanisms.

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