Date of Award

2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Physics

First Advisor

Drake, Gordon (Physics)

Keywords

Physics.

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

We present a general analytic method for evaluating the generally time-dependent pointer states of a subsystem, which are defined by their capability not to entangle with the states of another subsystem. We explore the conditions under which the pointer states of the system become independent of time; so that a preferred basis of measurement can be realized. We relate the mathematical conditions for having time-independent pointer states to some classes of possible symmetries in the Hamiltonian of the total composite system. Indeed, our theory would serve as a generalization of the existing theory for determination of the preferred basis of measurement. By exploiting this new theory we can obtain those regimes of the parameter space for a given total Hamiltonian defining our system-environment model for which a preferred basis of measurement can be realized. Moreover, we can predict the corresponding preferred basis of measurement for each regime. We can also obtain the time-dependent pointer states of the system and the environment in most of the other regimes where the pointer states of the system are time-dependent and a preferred basis of measurement cannot be realized at all. This ability to obtain time-dependent pointer states is specifically important in decoherence studies; as these pointer states, although they evolve with time and cannot represent the preferred basis of measurement, they correspond to those initial conditions for the state of the system and the environment for which we can have longer decoherence times. In the next step, we consider a spin-boson Hamiltonian which is generalized such that the Hamiltonians for the system and the interaction with the environment do not commute with each other. Considering a single-mode quantized field in exact resonance with the tunneling matrix element of the system, we calculate the time-dependent pointer states of the system and the environment for the case that the environment initially is prepared in the coherent state. We also obtain a closed form for the offdiagonal element of the reduced density matrix of the system and study the decoherence of the central system in our model. We will show that for the case that the system initially is prepared in one of its pointer states, the offdiagonal element of the reduced density matrix of the system will be a sinusoidal function with a slow decaying envelop which is characterized by a decay time proportional to n-bar.

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