Quantum signatures of chaos in a kicked top

S. Chaudhury, A. Smith, B. E. Anderson, S. Ghose, P. S. Jessen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

207 Scopus citations


Chaotic behaviour is ubiquitous and plays an important part in most fields of science. In classical physics, chaos is characterized by hypersensitivity of the time evolution of a system to initial conditions. Quantum mechanics does not permit a similar definition owing in part to the uncertainty principle, and in part to the Schrödinger equation, which preserves the overlap between quantum states. This fundamental disconnect poses a challenge to quantum-classical correspondence, and has motivated a long-standing search for quantum signatures of classical chaos. Here we present the experimental realization of a common paradigm for quantum chaosthe quantum kicked top and the observation directly in quantum phase space of dynamics that have a chaotic classical counterpart. Our system is based on the combined electronic and nuclear spin of a single atom and is therefore deep in the quantum regime; nevertheless, we find good correspondence between the quantum dynamics and classical phase space structures. Because chaos is inherently a dynamical phenomenon, special significance attaches to dynamical signatures such as sensitivity to perturbation or the generation of entropy and entanglement, for which only indirect evidence has been available. We observe clear differences in the sensitivity to perturbation in chaotic versus regular, non-chaotic regimes, and present experimental evidence for dynamical entanglement as a signature of chaos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)768-771
Number of pages4
Issue number7265
StatePublished - Oct 8 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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