- Quantum measurement as a driven phase transition: An exactly solvable model
- Physical Review A
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Theoretical Physics Amsterdam (ITFA)
A model of quantum measurement is proposed, which aims to describe statistical mechanical aspects of this phenomenon, starting from a purely Hamiltonian formulation. The macroscopic measurement apparatus is modeled as an ideal Bose gas, the order parameter of which, that is, the amplitude of the condensate, is the pointer variable. It is shown that properties of irreversibility and ergodicity breaking, which are inherent in the model apparatus, ensure the appearance of definite results of the measurement, and provide a dynamical realization of wave-function reduction or collapse. The measurement process takes place in two steps: First, the reduction of the state of the tested system occurs over a time of order $\hbar /(TN1/4)$, where T is the temperature of the apparatus, and N is the number of its degrees of freedom. This decoherence process is governed by the apparatus-system interaction. During the second step classical correlations are established between the apparatus and the tested system over the much longer time scale of equilibration of the apparatus. The influence of the parameters of the model on nonideality of the measurement is discussed. Schr\"odinger kittens, EPR setups, and information transfer are analyzed.
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