Understanding the dynamics of strongly interacting disordered quantum systems is one of the most challenging problems in modern science, due to features such as the breakdown of thermalization and the emergence of glassy phases of matter. We report on the observation of anomalous relaxation dynamics in an isolated XXZ quantum spin system realized by an ultracold gas of atoms initially prepared in a superposition of two different Rydberg states. The total magnetization is found to exhibit subexponential relaxation analogous to classical glassy dynamics, but in the quantum case this relaxation originates from the buildup of nonclassical correlations. In both experiment and semiclassical simulations, we find the evolution toward a randomized state is independent of the strength of disorder up to a critical value. This hints toward a unifying description of relaxation dynamics in disordered isolated quantum systems, analogous to the generalization of statistical mechanics to out-of-equilibrium scenarios in classical spin glasses.
A. Signoles, T. Franz, R. F. Alves, M. Gärttner, S. Whitlock, G. Zürn, and M. Weidemüller, “Glassy dynamics in a disordered Heisenberg quantum spin system”, Phys. Rev. X 11, 011011 (2021)
Related to Project: A05