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Environmental noise leads to dephasing and relaxation in a quantum system. Often, a rigorous treatment of multiple noise sources within a system-bath approach is not possible. We discuss the influence of environmental fluctuations on a quantum system whose dynamics is dephasing already due to a phenomenologically treated additional noise source. For this situation, we develop a path-integral approach, which allows us to treat the system-environment coupling in a numerically exact way, and additionally we extend standard perturbative approaches. We observe strong deviations between the numerically exact and the perturbative results even for weak system-bath coupling. This shows that standard perturbative approaches fail for additional, even weak, system-bath couplings if the system dynamics is already dissipative.

Environmental rocking ratchet: Environmental rectification by a harmonically driven avoided crossing
(2017)

We propose a rocking ratchet designed as a symmetric quantum two-state system driven by a single periodic harmonic force and influenced symmetrically by thermal fluctuations. We show that the necessary broken symmetry can dynamically be achieved by a thermal environment that couples to the energy difference between the two states and the tunnel coupling between them. The quantum two-state system is driven by the harmonic periodic drive through its avoided crossing. The correspondingly driven dissipative quantum dynamics results on average in a finite population difference between both states. This then causes directed particle transport.

Quantum systems are typically subject to various environmental noise sources. Treating these environmental disturbances with a system-bath approach beyond weak coupling, one must refer to numerical methods as, for example, the numerically exact quasi-adiabatic path integral approach. This approach, however, cannot treat baths which couple to the system via operators, which do not commute. We extend the quasi-adiabatic path integral approach by determining the time discrete influence functional for such non-commuting fluctuations and by modifying the propagation scheme accordingly. We test the extended quasi-adiabatic path integral approach by determining the time evolution of a quantum two-level system coupled to two independent baths via non-commuting operators. We show that the convergent results can be obtained and agreement with the analytical weak coupling results is achieved in the respective limits.

We study a quantum two-level system under the influence of two independent baths, i.e., a sub-Ohmic pure dephasing bath and an Ohmic or sub-Ohmic relaxational bath. We show that cooling such a system invariably polarizes one of the two baths. A polarized relaxational bath creates an effective asymmetry. This asymmetry can be suppressed by additional dephasing noise. This being less effective, the more dominant low frequencies are in the dephasing noise. A polarized dephasing bath generates a large shift in the coherent oscillation frequency of the two-level system. This frequency shift is little affected by additional relaxational noise nor by the frequency distribution of the dephasing noise itself. As our model reflects a typical situation for superconducting phase qubits, our findings can help optimize cooling protocols for future quantum electronic devices.

We study the nonequilibrium dynamics of a quantum system under the influence of two noncommuting fluctuation sources, i.e., purely dephasing fluctuations and relaxational fluctuations. We find that increasing purely dephasing fluctuations suppress increasing relaxation in the quantum system. This effect is further enhanced when both fluctuation sources are fully correlated. These effects arise for medium to strong primary fluctuations already when the secondary fluctuations are weak due to their noncommuting coupling to the quantum system. Dephasing, in contrast, is increased by increasing any of the two fluctuations. Fully correlated fluctuations result in overdamping at much lower system-bath coupling than uncorrelated noncommuting fluctuations. In total, we observe that treating subdominant secondary environmental fluctuations perturbatively leads, as neglecting them, to erroneous conclusions.