Quantum phase transitions are central to our understanding of why matter at very low temperatures can exhibit starkly different properties upon small changes of microscopic parameters. Accurately locating those transitions is challenging experimentally and theoretically. Here, we show that the antithetic strategy of forcing systems out of equilibrium via sudden quenches provides a route to locate quantum phase transitions. Specifically, we show that such transitions imprint distinctive features in the intermediate-time dynamics, and results after equilibration, of local observables in quantum chaotic spin chains. Furthermore, we show that the effective temperature in the expected thermal-like states after equilibration can exhibit minima in the vicinity of the quantum critical points. We discuss how to test our results in experiments with Rydberg atoms and explore nonequilibrium signatures of quantum critical points in models with topological transitions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)