Direct Observation of Dynamical Quantum Phase Transitions in an Interacting Many-Body System

Phys Rev Lett. 2017 Aug 25;119(8):080501. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.119.080501. Epub 2017 Aug 21.


The theory of phase transitions represents a central concept for the characterization of equilibrium matter. In this work we study experimentally an extension of this theory to the nonequilibrium dynamical regime termed dynamical quantum phase transitions (DQPTs). We investigate and measure DQPTs in a string of ions simulating interacting transverse-field Ising models. During the nonequilibrium dynamics induced by a quantum quench we show for strings of up to 10 ions the direct detection of DQPTs by revealing nonanalytic behavior in time. Moreover, we provide a link between DQPTs and the dynamics of other quantities such as the magnetization, and we establish a connection between DQPTs and entanglement production.