Emulating Many-Body Localization with a Superconducting Quantum Processor

Phys Rev Lett. 2018 Feb 2;120(5):050507. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.120.050507.


The law of statistical physics dictates that generic closed quantum many-body systems initialized in nonequilibrium will thermalize under their own dynamics. However, the emergence of many-body localization (MBL) owing to the interplay between interaction and disorder, which is in stark contrast to Anderson localization, which only addresses noninteracting particles in the presence of disorder, greatly challenges this concept, because it prevents the systems from evolving to the ergodic thermalized state. One critical evidence of MBL is the long-time logarithmic growth of entanglement entropy, and a direct observation of it is still elusive due to the experimental challenges in multiqubit single-shot measurement and quantum state tomography. Here we present an experiment fully emulating the MBL dynamics with a 10-qubit superconducting quantum processor, which represents a spin-1/2 XY model featuring programmable disorder and long-range spin-spin interactions. We provide essential signatures of MBL, such as the imbalance due to the initial nonequilibrium, the violation of eigenstate thermalization hypothesis, and, more importantly, the direct evidence of the long-time logarithmic growth of entanglement entropy. Our results lay solid foundations for precisely simulating the intriguing physics of quantum many-body systems on the platform of large-scale multiqubit superconducting quantum processors.