Exploring quantum thermalization with a magnetic quantum Newton’s cradle
Ben Lev

Kolmogorov-Arnold-Moser (KAM) theory is a crowning achievement of Newtonian mechanics. It accounts for the persistence of regular, non-chaotic dynamics even in models that are not integrable---e.g., the solar system---and captures the onset of chaos as the dynamics are tuned further from integrability. Thermalization of near-integrable quantum systems is, however, an unresolved question, which we explore using a dipolar quantum Newton's cradle. The magnetic dipole-dipole interaction provides tunability of both an integrability-breaking perturbation and the nature of the integrable dynamics. We find that the momentum distribution has two evolution regimes: fast dephasing followed by near-exponential thermalization. The work sheds light on the mechanisms by which isolated quantum many-body systems thermalize and on the temporal structure of the onset of thermalization.