Butterfly effect in interacting Aubry-Andre model : Thermalization, slow scrambling, and many-body localization

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  • Shenglong Xu
  • Xiao Li
  • Yi-Ting Hsu
  • Brian Swingle
  • S. Das Sarma

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Original languageEnglish
Article number032039
Journal / PublicationPhysical Review Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019



The many-body localization transition in quasiperiodic systems has been extensively studied in recent ultracold atom experiments. At intermediate quasiperiodic potential strength, a surprising Griffiths-like regime with slow dynamics appears in the absence of random disorder and mobility edges. In this Rapid Communication, we study the interacting Aubry-Andre model, a prototype quasiperiodic system, as a function of incommensurate potential strength using a dynamical measure, information scrambling, in a large system of 200 lattice sites. Between the thermal phase and the many-body localized phase, we find an intermediate dynamical phase where the butterfly velocity is zero and information spreads in space as a power law in time. This is in contrast to the ballistic spreading in the thermal phase and logarithmic spreading in the localized phase. We further investigate the entanglement structure of the many-body eigenstates in the intermediate phase and find strong fluctuations in eigenstate entanglement entropy within a given energy window, which is inconsistent with the eigenstate
thermalization hypothesis. Machine learning on the entanglement spectrum also reaches the same conclusion. Our large-scale simulations suggest that the intermediate phase with a vanishing butterfly velocity could be responsible for the slow dynamics seen in recent experiments.

Research Area(s)

  • Many-body localization, Quantum statistical mechanics

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