A lossy atom that does not decay: PT symmetry and coherent dynamics with complex energies
Isolated quantum systems, investigated a century ago, exhibit coherent, unitary dynamics. When such a system is coupled to an environment, the resulting loss of coherence is modeled by completely positive, trace preserving (CPTP) quantum maps for the density matrix. A lossy atom, when it has not decayed, exhibits a coherent dynamics that is in a distinct, new class. Non-Hermitian Hamiltonians with parity-time symmetry govern this class and exhibit exceptional-point (EP) degeneracies with topological features. After a historical introduction to PT symmetry, I will present examples of coherent, quantum dynamics in the static and Floquet regimes for such systems with a superconducting transmon (Nature Phys. 15, 1232 (2019)), ultracold atoms (Nature Comm. 10, 855 (2019)), and integrated quantum photonics (Phys. Rev. Res. 4, 013051 (2022); Nature 557, 660 (2018)) as platforms. These include topological quantum state transfer, entanglement/coherence control, and super-quantum correlations. I will conclude with speculations on applicability of these ideas to quantum matter, particle physics, and strong gravity.
(* with Anthony Laing group, Kater Murch group, Le Luo group, Sourin Das group).