684. WE-Heraeus-Seminar

Advances in open systems and fundamental tests of quantum mechanics

Bad Honnef (Germany), 2-5 December 2018

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Quantum mechanics has shown unprecedented success as a physical theory, providing astonishing accurate predictions, but at the same time it has forced upon us a new perspective on the description of physical reality.

While Schrödinger's equation applies to the dynamics of an isolated closed system, the treatment of an open system setting appeared as an essential ingredient in the very formulation and understanding of the theory since its very beginning. Indeed, the very formulation of a measurement process, allowing to extract information on the state of the system of interest, depends on the analysis of its interaction with an external system, typically with very different features, such as being macroscopic or in a specially prepared initial state. The search for a more realistic treatment of the measurement process as the result of the interaction between two systems, ultimately to be both described by quantum mechanics, has lead to important improvements in the formulation of quantum theory. A basic motivation for the consideration of open quantum systems rests on the conceptually unfeasible, and experimentally often too inaccurate, idealization of a perfect shielding of the system of interest from the external environment. The development of the formalism of open quantum systems has also led to a deeper understanding of the very structure and features of quantum mechanics. In particular it sets the framework in which any experiment testing the foundations of quantum mechanics or willing to discriminate between quantum mechanics and alternative theories has to be considered.

This seminar aims at reporting about recent results in the foundations of open quantum systems and its connection with the most advanced experiments testing the basic features of quantum mechanics, from the microscopic to the macroscopic regime.

Relevant topics include:

  • Strong coupling in open systems
  • System-environment correlations
  • Non-Markovianity
  • Collision models
  • Decoherence
  • Optomechanics
  • Alternative theories to quantum mechanics
  • Levitated quantum systems
  • Non-locality
  • Matter wave experiments


Bassano Vacchini, Heinz-Peter Breuer, Angelo Bassi

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Photo Credit: Markus Arndt