Bringing together the key ideas from nonequilibrium statistical mechanics and powerful methodology from quantum field theory, this book captures the essence of nonequilibrium quantum field theory. Beginning with the foundational aspects of the theory, the book presents important concepts and useful techniques, discusses issues of basic interest, and shows how thermal field, linear response, kinetic theories and hydrodynamics emerge. It also illustrates how these concepts and methodology are applied to current research topics including nonequilibrium phase transitions, thermalization in relativistic heavy ion collisions, the nonequilibrium dynamics of Bose-Einstein condensation, and the generation of structures from quantum fluctuations in the early Universe. Divided into five parts, with each part addressing a particular stage in the conceptual and technical development of the subject, this self-contained book is a valuable reference for graduate students and researchers in particle physics, gravitation, cosmology, atomic-optical and condensed matter physics.
We continue our earlier investigation of the backreaction problem in semiclassical gravity with the Schwinger-Keldysh or closed-time-path (CTP) functional formalism using the language of the decoherent history formulation of quantum mechanics. Making use of its intimate relation with the Feynman-Vernon influence functional (IF) method, we examine the statistical mechanical meaning and show the interrelation of the many quantum processes involved in the backreaction problem, such as particle creation, decoherence and dissipation. We show how noise and fluctuation arise naturally from the CTP formalism. We derive an expression for the CTP effective action in terms of the Bogolubov coefficients and show how noise is related to the fluctuations in the number of particles created. In so doing we have extended the old framework of semiclassical gravity, based on the mean field theory of Einstein equation with a source given by the expectation value of the energy-momentum tensor, to that based on a Langevin-type equation, where the dynamics of fluctuations of spacetime is driven by the quantum fluctuations of the matter field. This generalized framework is useful for the investigation of quantum processes in the early universe involving fluctuations, vacuum stability and phase transtion phenomena and the non-equilibrium thermodynamics of black holes. It is also essential to an understanding of the transition from any quantum theory of gravity to classical general relativity.
A linear open quantum system consisting of a harmonic oscillator linearly
coupled to an infinite set of independent harmonic oscillators is considered;
these oscillators have a general spectral density function and are initially in
a Gaussian state. Using the influence functional formalism a formal Langevin
equation can be introduced to describe the system's fully quantum properties
even beyond the semiclassical regime. It is shown that the reduced Wigner
function for the system is exactly the formal distribution function resulting
from averaging both over the initial conditions and the stochastic source of
the formal Langevin equation. The master equation for the reduced density
matrix is then obtained in the same way a Fokker-Planck equation can always be
derived from a Langevin equation characterizing a stochastic process. We also
show that a subclass of quantum correlation functions for the system can be
deduced within the stochastic description provided by the Langevin equation. It
is emphasized that when the system is not Markovian more information can be
extracted from the Langevin equation than from the master equation.Comment: 16 pages, RevTeX, 1 figure (uses epsf.sty). Shortened version.
Partially rewritten to emphasize those aspects which are new. Some references
We analyze the phenomena of condensate collapse, as described by Donley et al [1,2], by focusing on the behavior of excitations or fluctuations above the condensate, as driven by the dynamics of the condensate, rather than the dynamics of the condensate alone or the kinetics of the atoms. The dynamics of the condensate squeezes and amplifies the quantum excitations, mixing the positive and negative frequency components of their wave functions thereby creating particles which appear as bursts and jets. By analyzing the changing amplitude and particle content of these excitations, our simple physical picture explains well the overall features of the collapse phenomena and provide excellent quantitative fits with experimental data on several aspects, such as the scaling behavior of the collapse time and the amount of particles in the jet. The predictions of the bursts at this level of approximation is less than satisfactory but may be improved on by including the backreaction of the excitations on the condensate. The mechanism behind the dominant effect -parametric amplification of vacuum fluctuations and freezing of modes outside of horizon -is similar to that of cosmological particle creation and structure formation in a rapid quench (which is fundamentally different from Hawking radiation in black holes). This shows that BEC dynamics is a promising venue for doing 'laboratory cosmology'. *
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