Bimodal entanglement entropy distribution in the many-body localization transition

Xiongjie Yu, David J. Luitz, Bryan K. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We introduce the cut-averaged entanglement entropy in disordered periodic spin chains and prove it to be a concave function of subsystem size for individual eigenstates. This allows us to identify the entanglement scaling as a function of subsystem size for individual states in inhomogeneous systems. Using this quantity, we probe the critical region between the many-body localized (MBL) and ergodic phases in finite systems. In the middle of the spectrum, we show evidence for bimodality of the entanglement distribution in the MBL critical region, finding both volume law and area law eigenstates over disorder realizations as well as within single disorder realizations. The disorder-averaged entanglement entropy in this region then scales as a volume law with a coefficient below its thermal value. We discover in the critical region, as we approach the thermodynamic limit, that the cut-averaged entanglement entropy density falls on a one-parameter family of curves. Finally, we also show that without averaging over cuts the slope of the entanglement entropy vs subsystem size can be negative at intermediate and strong disorder, caused by rare localized regions in the system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number184202
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number18
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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