The understanding of how classical dynamics can emerge in closed quantum systems is a problem of fundamental importance. Remarkably, while classical behavior usually arises from coupling to thermal fluctuations or random spectral noise, it may also be an innate property of certain isolated, periodically driven quantum systems. Here, we experimentally realize the simplest such system, consisting of two coupled, kicked quantum rotors, by subjecting a coherent atomic matter wave to two periodically pulsed, incommensurate optical lattices. Momentum transport in this system is found to be radically different from that in a single kicked rotor, with a breakdown of dynamical localization and the emergence of classical diffusion. Our observation, which confirms a long-standing prediction for many-dimensional quantum-chaotic systems, sheds new light on the quantum-classical correspondence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)